Prevention and treatment
HIV: human immunodeficiency virus
AIDS: acquired immune deficiency syndrome
AIDS is a severe weakening of the body’s own defence system triggered by HIV. AIDS makes the body defenceless against many pathogens which a healthy human is able to combat without any difficulty. Diseases caused by a weakening of the body’s own immune system (opportunistic infections) will ultimately result in death if left untreated.
Consequently, it is very important to know in good time whether a person has been infected with HIV. A human being can only be infected by HIV with certain body fluids which contain a large quantity of the virus:
- seminal fluid,
- vaginal secretions
- maternal milk
The greatest risk of infection is through unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse and sharing syringes when using intravenous drugs.
If you have questions about HIV or AIDS, you can contact both outpatient and hospital doctors as well as community health authorities, advice centres or AIDS counseling centres in Saxony. At these locations, you can clarify whether you have been exposed to a risk of infection, ask questions that concern you, and address fears and stressful feelings..
If it turns out during counselling that there was indeed a risk of infection with HIV, an HIV test can provide certainty. It is up to you to decide whether to have an HIV test. An HIV test may not be done without your knowledge and consent.
If you want to rule out the possibility that you have been infected with HIV, the HIV antibody test should be carried out at the earliest six weeks after the last risk situation. In addition, the counsellor knows about protection options against HIV (and other sexually transmitted infections) as well as about support services and the medical treatment options. When using a self-test or a rapid test, it should be noted that the test can be carried out at the earliest 12 weeks after the last risk.
Tests for HIV and sexually transmitted infections are available at the counselling centres of the public health offices and at the four AIDS support centres in Chemnitz, Dresden, Leipzig and Zwickau.
Specialised doctors and HIV outpatient clinics at hospitals in Chemnitz, Dresden and Leipzig are licensed to provide treatment in Saxony.
If a situation should arise in which there was a high risk of infection, there is the possibility of carrying out a so-called HIV postexposure prophylaxis (HIV-PEP). Here, a doctor decides together with the person seeking advice to take an HIV medication for a period of one month in order to prevent an infection of the body cells with the HI virus. PEP must be started as soon as possible after the risk of infection. Preferably within two hours, otherwise preferably within 24 hours, at the latest after 48 hours. In such emergency situations, presentation to the emergency room of a hospital is recommended.
HIV-PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)
Condoms can prevent HIV infection. Condoms are usually available free of charge from AIDS help centres and health offices. Condoms can also be bought in supermarkets, drugstores, pharmacies or on the internet. When buying condoms, it is important to make sure that the condom is the right size.
Another way to protect yourself from an HIV infection is the so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). With PrEP, a drug is taken permanently that protects against HIV infection as well as a condom. Professional counselling on PrEP is necessary. This can be obtained from specialised doctors or from the AIDS help centres. In Germany, the costs of PrEP are covered by the statutory health insurance.
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Source: Health Guide for Migrants in the Free State of Saxony, Saxon State Ministry for Social Affairs and Social Cohesion, editorial office Amt24. 30.09.2022