HIV FAQ or frequently asked questions are important because they allow a better understanding of the virus. We will look at some of the most common questions people have about HIV. If you have a question that is not covered here, then feel free to contacts us.
What Is HIV?
HIV is an abbreviation of human immunodeficiency virus. This is a virus that affects humans and fights immune system cells. The virus attacks the cells that fight infections in the body, and this results in a weak immune system. The virus’ reproduction happens in the cells of a human body. This virus is similar to other viruses such as the flu or common cold viruses. The difference is that the body cannot fight the HIV virus the same way it fights these others. Once the virus gets inside the body, it stays there for the rest of the person’s life.
What Is AIDS?
AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. This is HIV’s most advance stage. It means that it is acquired after HIV infection. At this stage, the virus has damaged the immune system such that the body cannot fight simple infections. AIDS is, therefore, not a specific illness, it is a complex syndrome that portrays multiple symptoms and may result in complications.
Is There A Difference Between HIV and AIDS?
Yes. AIDS is what you have when HIV is at its most advanced stage. This means that not all people living with HIV have AIDS. HIV is the virus and AIDS is a stage. At this stage, the body is attacked by opportunistic infections which the body can fight on a normal case. A person who gets to this stage will need proper medical treatment to get out. The fortunate thing is that there are modern medications that can help a person get out of the AIDS stage and get back to just having HIV. The HIV can also be suppressed by the medication to a point of undetectable viral load.
How Is HIV Transmitted?
HIV spreads from one person to the other through semen and pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluids, blood, beast milk, and rectal fluids. In most cases, the infection happens when some of these fluids get into contact with damaged tissues, when injected directly into the body, or when they are ingested such as breast milk. The mucous membrane is one place where the virus mostly gets into the body. This membrane is found in the rectum, mouth, penis, and vagina.
In most cases, HIV transmission is through vaginal and anal sex and sharing of drug injection tools such as syringes and needles. It’s also important to emphasize that transmission is NOT through sweat, saliva tears, water, insects, utensils, hugging, drinking fountains, or toilet seats.
Who Is At Risk Of HIV Infection?
This is an important HIV FAQ because there are some people who believe that HIV is just for a certain group of people. While statistics show that HIV is more rampant in some communities, everyone is at risk of infection. The infection risk is more of a behavior than the person you are.
What Are HIV Symptoms?
Some people experience some symptoms while others do not show any symptoms. This is why you cannot just depend on symptoms to know that you are HIV positive. You need HIV testing to be sure of your status.
What If The Testing Results Are Positive?
Once you test positive for HIV, you should start taking antiretroviral medication immediately. It is important that you get a prescription from a professional medical practitioner. You should follow the prescription strictly to give you a long healthy life. Using the ART properly will lead to undetectable levels of the virus and this also reduces the HIV transmission risk.
Do Latex Condoms Prevent HIV Transmission?
If latex condoms are used properly and consistently, they can contribute a great deal in the prevention of HIV transmission. Though condoms can provide protection, they are not 100%. The surest way is abstinence and being in long term exclusive relationships with a HIV negative person.
Can You Get HIV From Oral Sex?
Though rare, there are cases where HIV infection is through oral sex. This has become a common HIV FAQ. The risk is not as high as vaginal and anal sex but it is still there. This happens if the giver and the recipient have open sores in the mouth and genitals respectively. The best way to prevent this kind of transmission is the use of dental dams and latex barriers.
Can I Get HIV From Anal Sex?
Yes, actually, unprotected anal sex is one on of the most common ways HIV is transmitted. It is, therefore, important that you use latex condoms to prevent the infection. It is also important to make use of water-base lubricants to avoid condom breakages.
Where Can I Get HIV Testing?
Most local health centers, doctor offices, clinics, and hospitals offer HIV testing services. There are also health centers that specifically provide HIV testing services and counseling.
Should Pregnant Women Get HIV Testing?
According to recommendations by major health organizations, it is important for all pregnant women to get a HIV test. This is because early diagnosis allows the mother to start taking medication in case of positive results. This will help in preventing the infection of the child.
When Does HIV Become AIDS?
The time it takes HIV to get to its most advanced stage, AIDS, depends on the person involved. It also depends on the lifestyle the individual is living. Initially about 50% of people with HIV got to AIDS within 10 years. With the use of modern HIV treatment, not many people are getting to the AIDS stage.
HIV FAQ Conclusion
It is important to follow all the HIV prevention measures including getting a test. If you happen to test positive, this is not the end of life. With HIV treatment medication, you can still live a long healthy life. If there is any question that you have not found in this HIV FAQ, contact us with your question.