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The JPS Podcast: Healing Starts at Education

Healing Start at Education, Danielle Call, JPS Health Network Healing Wings

Season 5: Episode 3 Show Notes

Receiving the news "You are positive for HIV" is a difficult experience. Many thoughts run through an individual's mind, often making them feel like their life is over. However, this doesn't have to be the case. By accepting treatment and taking the necessary medications, the diagnosis doesn't have to take over a person's life. This was the reality for JPS patient Albert Jones. He has learned to live with HIV and lead a happy life. With the knowledge he has gained from his healthcare team at JPS, he has been able to advocate for others living with HIV.

Brian Maschino and Tatiyana Giddings met with Danielle Call, LCSW, Case Manager, Healing Wings, to better understand an HIV diagnosis. Many people lack proper education about HIV, so Call helps to dispel common myths and provides information for early prevention and better ways for individuals to support their loved ones living with HIV. If this episode on living with diabetes speaks to you, speak to us:

Healing Start at Education, Danielle Call, Albert Jones, JPS Health Network Healing Wings
Healing Start at Education, Danielle Call, JPS Health Network Healing Wings


What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body's immune system, specifically the CD4 cells. This weakens the body's ability to fight infection and disease. HIV is spread through certain bodily fluids of a person living with HIV. While there is no cure for HIV, individuals can live a long and healthy life by taking medications that control the infection and prevent the disease from progressing.

Symptoms of HIV

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of HIV are,

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Rash
  • Sore throat and painful mouth sores
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Cough
  • Night Sweats

What is AIDS?

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the advanced stage of HIV. It is an ongoing, also called chronic, condition caused if HIV isn’t treated. It can take a few years for HIV to advance to AIDS. When this occurs, it means that the immune system has been weakened enough. With more advanced treatment, most people don’t develop AIDS.

According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of AIDS are,

  • Sweats
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Ongoing Diarrhea
  • Swollen Lymph Glands
  • Contact white spots or lesions on the tongue or in the mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Rapid Weight Loss
  • Skin Rashes or Bumps

Undetectable = Untransmissible (U=U)

Although there is no cure for HIV, with proper treatment, an individual can live a healthy life. The aim is to reach an undetectable viral load. When an individual achieves an undetectable viral load through appropriate treatment, they cannot transmit the virus to others. Therefore, Undetectable = Untransmissible.

Viral Load

Viral load refers to the amount of virus present in a person’s blood. Measuring the viral load helps healthcare providers monitor the progression of the infection and identify the most effective treatment for the patient to keep these numbers down. A higher viral load increases the risk of CD4 (T cell) destruction and speeds up the progression towards AIDS. The goal is to maintain high CD4 cell counts and a low viral load through treatment.

Opportunistic Infections:

Opportunistic infections are most common in individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those living with HIV.

Antiretroviral Therapy (ART):

ART is the combination of HIV medications to treat HIV and prevent the disease from progressing.

Myths about living with HIV

Q: Are only certain people at risk for HIV?

A: While there are certain groups of people who are at higher risk of contracting HIV, everyone is susceptible to contracting HIV.

Q:Will HIV always lead to AIDS?

A: No. Early prevention, such as taking medications to keep viral loads down and continuously working to maintain a healthy immune system can prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS.

Q: Can HIV be spread through everyday contact?

A: HIV cannot be spread through everyday contact, such as hugging, sharing food or drinks, or using the same utensils.

Q: Is HIV a death sentence?

A: No. With proper treatment, individuals who are living with HIV can live long and happy lives.

If you or a loved one need HIV testing, are living with HIV, or need to learn more about an HIV diagnosis, visit the JPS Health Network Healing Wings Clinic.