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Can she be positive
Jun 7, 2009

I am(57yrs) in Zimbabwe, got sick a few days ago, i went to the doctor and was told i am HIV positive, i have not been sexually active for 8yrs, is this even possible, also if i really am then i am in trouble because, there is no medication. What should i do.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Is it possible to be HIV positive and not realize it for eight years? Yes, absolutely. Following initial HIV infection there is usually a period of symptoms (acute retroviral syndrome) that occurs several weeks after the exposure. This symptom complex can vary considerably from person to person. In some folks it's so mild that it goes completely unnoticed. In others it's so severe they wind up in the hospital. After the acute retroviral syndrome (ARS), there is a period where HIVers are completely asymptomatic, even though the virus remains active and is slowly decimating the immune system. This period can last five to ten years in some individuals.

As for what you should do next, the first thing is to confirm if indeed you are HIV infected. HIV-screening tests can produce a number of false positives and there is also always the possibility of a technical or clerical error. If you are confirmed to be HIV positive, you need to see a physician who is experienced in treating HIV/AIDS. Medications are scarce in Zimbabwe, but international aid groups are making progress to increase the supply. A local HIV specialist physician would have the most recent information as to where you might obtain treatment if needed. Also try checking with SANSO (http://www.sanaso.org.zw/about.htm) (The Southern African Network of AIDS Service Organizations (SANASO) is a Network of NGOs, Faith based organisations FBOs, Community based Organisations (CBOs) and People living with HIV/AIDS (PWAs) involved in HIV/AIDS work in Southern Africa. The Network has been in existence for ten years and its current membership includes NGOs in 10 Southern African countries namely: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was created from recognition of the important role that NGOs, community organizations and people living with HIV/AIDS play in the campaign HIV/AIDS and the need for these groups to better coordinate their efforts. SANASO is a mechanism for facilitating contacts among NGOs so that they are able to learn from each other, better utilize each others' resources and be able to take a common position of issues in the HIV/AIDS response in the region. SANASO membership has increased to over one thousand organizations in the region registered through National Country Networks in 10 member countries as shown below.)

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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