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WHAT IS HIV

Posted on  December 4, 2021  by  Kenan


WHAT IS HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that transmits the infection to the immune system cells and demolishes and damages their functioning. With the progression in the infection, the immune system becomes defective and the person becomes more vulnerable to infections. The body has a lot of trouble in battling diseases if it doesn't have a good immune system.

The immune system relies heavily on white blood cells. HIV infects and kills CD4+ cells, which are white blood cells. The body can no longer protect itself against infection if too many CD4+ cells are killed. The advanced stage of HIV is known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This stage slows down the functioning of the immune system even further.

However, having HIV disease does not imply that you have AIDS. HIV takes a long time to advance to AIDS, almost 10 to 12 years.  Several people with HIV can live longer and healthier lives with the help of proper treatment.

HOW HIV IS TRANSMITTED?:

The person-to-person transfer of HIV is known as HIV transmission. People can acquire or pass on HIV only through particular activities like sex, injecting, or drug use. HIV can be spread from a person who has HIV only by specific body fluids. Such fluids are semen, blood, breastmilk, pre-seminal fluids, vaginal fluids, etc. HIV is only transmittable if these fluids come into contact with mucus membrane or impaired tissues or through direct injection of these fluids into the bloodstream. It can also be transmitted from a woman with HIV to her baby during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding.

HOW YOU CAN’T GET HIV: HIV cannot be spread from casual contact with a person having HIV like a hug, handshake, kiss. It cannot be spread from the things such as saliva, sweat, tears, biting insects, toilet seats, dishes, and door handle being in the use of an HIV-positive person.

SYMPTOMS:

You may develop mild infections or persistent signs and symptoms as the virus continues to multiply and kill the immune cells in your body that helps to combat germs. The symptoms include fatigue, fever, body aches, loss of weight, diarrhea, pneumonia, oral yeast infections, rashes, night sweats, joint pain, swallowing of lymph nodes.

HOW TO PREVENT HIV?:

There is no cure for AIDS and no vaccine to prevent HIV infection. But you can prevent yourself and others from this infectious disease. Anyone can acquire this disease but some precautionary measures can definitely reduce the possibility of having HIV. There are numerous efficient ways for preventing or reducing HIV infection such as;

• Get HIV tested: Before you have sex, talk to your partner about HIV testing and get vaccinated.  Find an HIV testing location near you by using the testing locators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Use a condom during sex: The most successful means of defense against HIV and other STIs is a condom. It's suitable for both vaginal and anal sex, as well as oral sex.

• Prefer less risky sexual behaviors: Having anal or vaginal sex without using a condom or taking HIV prevention or treatment medications is the most popular reason for HIV to spread. So, people should avoid such behavior to lessen the risk of getting HIV positive.

• Mitigate the number of sexual partners you have: The more partners you have, the more likely you are to have a partner with HIV that is poorly regulated or a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Both of these factors may make HIV transmission more likely.

• Get screened for STDs and treated if necessary: Insist on having the partners screened and treated as well. If you have an STD, you're more likely to catch HIV or spread it to others.

• Pre-exposure prophylaxis is recommended (PrEP): PrEP is an HIV prevention choice for a person who is HIV-negative but at risk of catching the virus. PrEP is a method of reducing the risk of becoming HIV Infected by sex or injection drug use by taking a particular HIV medication every day. 

Avoid Injecting Drugs: Don’t inject drugs, however, if you do, make sure you only use sterile drug injection equipment and water, and never share your equipment with anyone.

• Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP): PEP stands for post prophylaxis, which entails taking HIV medications within 72 hours after a suspected HIV infection. PEP can only be used in extreme circumstances. It is not intended for long-term use by people who are regularly exposed to HIV. 

• Mother to Child HIV transmission prevention: Pregnant HIV-positive women take HIV medications for their own wellbeing and to avoid HIV transmission from mother to child. HIV medication is provided to babies born to HIV-positive mothers after birth to protect them from infection from HIV that may have been transmitted from mother to child during childbirth. 

• Taking Precautionary Measures: if you are a health care worker: If you work in healthcare, you should take precautions such as wearing protective equipment (such as gloves and goggles), washing your hands after coming into contact with blood or other bodily fluids, and properly disposing of sharp equipment. Today, there are more HIV prevention options than ever before. Abstinence (not having intercourse), never sharing needles, and using condoms correctly any time you have sex are all options. You may also be able to benefit from HIV prevention medications like PrEP or PEP. If you have HIV, there are many precautions mentioned above that you can take to avoid infecting others.

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