HIV / AIDS – Let Answer Those Questions on Your Mind

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HIV

This is Guide to HIV/AIDS with most questions around HIV and AIDS answered. Basically looking at the facts on HIV/AIDS, where it started, how it spreads, and what you can do to prevent infection.

My source credited to webmd and hiv.gov

1. What Is HIV/AIDS?

Starting from HIV, HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that attacks the immune system.  It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, if not treated. So AIDS, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is the disease that it causes.

2. Where Does It Came From

I guess I don’t know too but according to one widely accepted theory, AIDS has its origins in African monkeys and apes while HIV started as a disease affecting them. Later, the virus changed and was able to infect humans. A 2014 study suggests the disease crossed over to humans more than a century ago

3. What It Attacks

HIV attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (T cells), which help the immune system fight off infections. Untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body, making the person more likely to get other infections or infection-related cancers The virus then makes copies of itself and spreads throughout the body, infecting more T cells. Over time, healthy T cells go into decline while HIV-infected cells increase. This weakens the immune system and leads to AIDS.

4. How Does the Virus Spreads

You can get or transmit HIV only through specific activities. Most commonly, people get or transmit HIV through sexual behaviors and needle or syringe use.

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Pre-ejaculate (fluid released by the penis during arousal)
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Rectal mucus
  • Breast milk

Even then, the fluid has to come into contact with a mucous membrane (like those in sex organs), damaged tissue, or the bloodstream.

5. Does the Virus Spreads through Foods, Toilet Seat…

You can’t get HIV from a toilet seat, or handshake. Or from food, even food handled by someone who is HIV-positive. You don’t get it from insect bites, either. Even closed-mouth kissing is fine. Why? The virus dies quickly outside the human body.

6. What Are the Early Symptoms I should watch out for?

Most people do not know when they acquired HIV.  However, about one third of people report flu-like symptoms around the time they were infected.  The early symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes

You may also get a red rash that doesn’t itch.

These symptoms, which last up to a few weeks, mean your immune system is doing its job and fighting the virus. However, these symptoms can also be seen with other viral infections. If you develop these symptoms and have engaged in behavior that could put you at risk for HIV, you should consult your doctor and be tested for HIV.

7. Who Gets HIV?

  • HIV/AIDS doesn’t care who you are, or how old or young you are.
  • Anyone who has unprotected sex or shares needles from tattooing or IV drug use – even once – is at risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS.
  • Many transmissions among women are through their male partners.

8. Should You Get Tested?

Anyone at risk or have recently engaged in high-risk behavior should be tested.  You should be tested for HIV, generally at least once a year.  The simplest HIV tests use blood or saliva to look for antibodies that your immune system makes in response to HIV. Results are available in as soon as 20 minutes.

If your first test shows that you don’t have HIV, but you have recently engaged in high-risk behavior, experts recommend taking a follow-up test 3 months later because it can take up to that long for HIV antibodies to show up.

9. How to Protect Yourself If you Do Not Have HIV

When you have sex:

  • Use condoms.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners.
  • Stick to less-risky forms of sex. You’re much less likely to get HIV from oral sex than vaginal sex or anal sex.
  • Ask your doctor about preventive medicines.
  • If you use drugs, always use clean needles. Sterile is best, and don’t share.

Also, if you feel you are at risk for getting HIV, you should get tested at least once a year.

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