Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) destroys a person’s immune system, making it impossible for the body to fight off disease or illnesses.HIV is also a Sexually Transmitted Infection and other STI’s make it easier for HIV to be transmitted to others. STI’s can damage the skin of the genital area, causing sores that act as an open door, making it easier for HIV to move from one person to another.

PREVENTION IS THE ONLY CURE!

  • Say NO to sex with casual partners – it’s not worth the risk.
  • Say NO to sex with anyone who has symptoms of STI’s.
  • Say NO to sex without a condom – it is the ONLY way to avoid infection!
  • If you have a new boyfriend or girlfriend, take time before having sex to talk about HIV and other STI’s.
  • Get tested-Make sure you and your partner are both infection free before having sex without a condom.
  • Be faithful to your partner.

How HIV is spread? HIV is spread through some of the body’s fluids. HIV is in:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vagina fluids
  • Breast milk
  • Some body fluids that may be handled by health care workers (fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord, bone joints, and around an unborn baby)

HIV may be passed from one person to another by:

  • More common
    • Having sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) with a person who has HIV
    • Sharing needles with someone who has HIV, such as when using drugs
    • Pregnancy, labour, birth, or breastfeeding if a mother has HIV.
  • Less common/ rare
    • Blood transfusion from an HIV positive blood donor, which is very unlikely today because blood banks test donated blood for HIV
    • Eating food that has been pre-chewed by an HIV-infected person who is bleeding in the mouth. The blood in a caregiver’s mouth can mix with food while chewing. This is rare and has only been noted among infants whose HIV positive caregiver gave them pre-chewed food.
    • Using a dirty tattooing needle (if it was used before on someone with HIV). Make sure the needle is new.
    • Frequently Sharing a toothbrush or shaving stick with someone who has HIV, this is because of bleeding.

HIV is not spread through:

  • Kissing (while saliva is not a good medium for the virus there is a small chance of getting HIV from open-mouthed or “French” kissing if there’s contact with blood)
  • Touching, hugging, or handshakes
  • Sharing food or drinks
  • Sharing food utensils, towels and bedding, telephones, or toilet seats
  • Donating blood
  • Working with or being around someone with HIV
  • Biting insects, such as mosquitoes
  • Swimming pools or drinking fountains
  • Playing sports

How can you tell if someone is HIV Positive? There are no obvious signs and symptoms of sickness to warn you – you cannot tell if a person is HIV Positive just by looking at them! It takes many years for HIV infection to show, and an infected person usually starts showing symptoms of other diseases like TB or Pneumonia because of HIV infection.

Early symptoms of HIV Infection and AIDS:

Many people have no symptoms when they first get HIV. Some have no symptoms for years. It varies from person to person. But some people get a flu-like illness within a month or two after first getting HIV. Those symptoms include fever, headache, being very tired and swollen lymph nodes (glands in the neck and groin). Often the flu-like symptoms go away within a week to a month. Even if there are no signs of sickness, HIV can still be passed to another person.

It’s important to remember that HIV is active inside thebody, even when you don’t have symptoms. As HIV spreads inthe body, the person will start to feel sick. For many people, the first symptom they notice is large lymph nodes (swollen glands) that last for more than three months. Other symptoms of HIV include:

  • Being very tired (fatigue)
  • Quick weight loss
  • Fevers and night sweats
  • Headache
  • Diarrheal, vomiting, and nausea
  • Mouth, genital, or anal sores
  • Dry cough
  • Rash or flaky skin
  • Short-term memory loss

There are also other health problems that are more common, serious, and harder to treat in people with HIV:

  • Vaginal infections, like yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis
  • Sexually transmitted infection(STIs) like Gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease(PID) that does not respond to treatment
  • Pneumonia
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, which can cause genital warts and cervical cancer.
  • Other opportunistic infections (OIs) that can affect the eyes, digestive tracts, kidney, lungs, skin, and brain.