Millicent receiving her meds at a clinic
People with healthy immune systems can be exposed to certain viruses, bacteria, or parasites and have no reaction to them—but people living with HIV/AIDS can face serious health threats from what are known as “opportunistic” infections (OIs). These infections are called “opportunistic” because they take advantage of your weakened immune system, and they can cause devastating illnesses. OIs are the most common cause of death for people with HIV/AIDS.
The Center for Disease Control developed a list of more than 20 OIs that are considered AIDS-defining conditions—if you have HIV and one or more of these OIs, you will be diagnosed with AIDS, no matter what your CD4 count happens to be:
- Candidiasis of bronchi, trachea, esophagus, or lungs
- Invasive cervical cancer
- Cryptosporidiosis, chronic intestinal (greater than 1 month's duration)
- Cytomegalovirus disease (particularly CMV retinitis)
- Encephalopathy, HIV-related
- Herpes simplex: chronic ulcer(s) (greater than 1 month's duration); or bronchitis, pneumonitis, or esophagitis
- Isosporiasis, chronic intestinal (greater than 1 month's duration)
- Kaposi's sarcomav
- Lymphoma, multiple forms
- Mycobacterium avium complex
- Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia
- Pneumonia, recurrent
- Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
- Salmonella septicemia, recurrent
- Toxoplasmosis of brain
- Wasting syndrome due to HIV
One of AFCA's goals for the children in our programs is to lower the risk of getting OIs. Antiretroviral therapy can help by increasing your number of CD4 cells, which will help protect them from OIs. AFCA also provides medications used to prevent disease from occurring - known as prophylaxis.
Thanks to donors like you, we are able to provide medicine for children seen in 75 clinics throughout Uganda. It is life-saving, to say the least!
Fatuma and siblings receiving their free medicatio