Family Life and Sexual Health, Grade 7, Lesson 21
This [Box 5] is the day that Student X got infected. From this day forward Student X has HIV and could transmit it.
Student X can find out that he has HIV, but he will have to wait a little bit. If you tested Student X tomorrow it wouldn’t show that he has HIV. The standard HIV test doesn’t look for the virus itself. It looks for antibodies to HIV. Remember, antibodies are a part of your immune system; they fight off germs.
It will probably take Student X at least a few weeks to build up enough antibodies to show up on an HIV test. So he has no way to know it yet, but he has HIV and he can give it to others if he shares a needle with them or has unprotected sex with them. After three months, an HIV test would tell him for sure that he is infected. If he hadn’t gotten infected, it would tell him that too. But Student X feels fine, so it may not occur to him to get tested. About one quarter of people with HIV don’t yet know they are infected.
Write on transparency: 3 months and Antibodies.
Then, probably for years, Student X will NOT have any symptoms that he is infected with HIV. He’ll feel fine and healthy and he will keep going to work or school. This is called being “asymptomatic.” It doesn’t mean the HIV has gone away. It hasn’t. It is gradually multiplying in his body, killing off T-cells as it multiplies. Remember T-cells are a kind of white blood cell. They sort of run the immune system; they tell antibodies to fight germs including HIV.
But Student X feels fine because he had so many T-cells to begin with that he was able to keep fighting off other germs even as the HIV began to kill off his T-cells.
The average person with HIV is in this asymptomatic phase where they feel perfectly healthy for about 10 or 12 years. But that’s just an average. It could be just a couple of years. It could be 15 or 20 years or longer, especially if they are getting treatment. But we’ll come back to that.
Write on the transparency: 10-12, Symptoms, and Asymptomatic.
Now it has been ten years so Student X is now 24. HIV is starting to win the ight against his immune system. HIV has killed off enough of his T-cells that his immune system is seriously weak. Student X suffers often from nausea and diarrhea. He is so tired that many days he can’t get out of bed. The doctor tells him that he now has AIDS, the last stage of HIV infection.
Student X happened to get nauseous and tired. People with HIV get lots of different infections and conditions that they just can’t fight off very well: certain cancers, pneumonias, and other things that people with healthy immune systems almost never get. If Student X
PUBLIC HEALTH – SEATTLE & KING COUNTY WWW.METROKC.GOV/HEALTH/FAMPLAN/FLASH
SEATTLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS HIV/AIDS REVISED 2002