Basic Facts about HIV

What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a virus that infects cells of the human immune system and results in the progressive deterioration of the immune system, leading to ‘immune deficiency’.

What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. HIV is an unusual virus because a person can be infected with it for many years and yet remain perfectly healthy. But the virus gradually multiplies inside the body and eventually destroys the body’s ability to fight off certain infections. These types of infections are known as “opportunistic” infections because they take advantage of the weakened immune system and cause illnesses.
A positive HIV test result does not mean that a person has AIDS. HIV infection advances to AIDS only when the immune system is considerably compromised. This interim period is typically about 8 to 10 years and can be extended by many more years through appropriately lifestyle and medication.
Physicians use certain clinical criteria (e.g. AIDS indicator illnesses) or blood test like CD4 count assess the immunity level of the person and determine whether the infection has reached the stage of AIDS.

How does HIV spread?
There are ONLY four modes of transmission of HIV
1. Unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral sex) with an infected person
2. Sharing contaminated syringes, needles or other sharp instruments
3. From HIV infected mother to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast feeding
4. Blood transfusion with blood contaminated with HIV

HIV is not transmitted through day-to-day non-sexual contact. You cannot be infected by shaking someone’s hand, by hugging someone, sharing clothes, using the same toilet or by drinking from the same glass or plate as a person living with HIV. HIV is not transmitted through coughing or sneezing like some other diseases.

How can I reduce you reduce the risk of getting HIV?
Sexual Contact
Till you reach an age where you can take responsibility for the consequences, it is best to abstain from sex. It is also the surest way of preventing HIV infection.
Masturbation and body sex are equally safe ways to satisfy the sexual urge.
If you are in a relationship, remain faithful with an uninfected equally faithful partner
If you must have multiple partners, limit your number of sex partners. The fewer partners you have, the less likely you are to encounter someone who is infected with HIV or another STD.
Use male or female condoms correctly each time you have sex.

Intravenous Drug Use
If you use intravenous drugs, use a new, sterile syringe to prepare and inject drugs each time.
Never re-use needles, syringes, drug-preparation equipment and never share with other people

Blood Transfusion
Opt for blood transfusion if it is necessary and take blood from registered blood banks only.
Do not take blood from professional donors

How do I know if someone is infected with HIV?
You cannot tell someone has HIV just by looking at them. He/she may not belong to a specific so called “high risk group”. A person living with HIV may look healthy and feel good just like you. A blood test is the only way a person can find out if he or she is infected with HIV. So one has to adopt preventive measures to limit the risk of HIV.

Is there any treatment for HIV/AIDS?
lthough there is no cure for HIV, there are drugs available which can help a person stay healthy and lead an almost normal life. This drug therapy is called Anti-retroviral therapy which helps to slow down and almost halt the progression of the HIV in the body. Once started, the drugs are to be taken lifelong at the right time and in the right way.

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