-HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a retrovirus that causes HIV infection. Its entrance into the body lowers the immunity or the ability to fight off diseases. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life.
-HIV infection is the successful entry of HIV in the human host, weakening the immune system and leading to a spectrum of diseases.
-AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is the most advanced stage of HIV infection which can take from 2 to 15 years to develop depending on the individual.
HIV can be transmitted through the exchange of a variety of fluids from infected individuals, such as blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions.
HIV is not transmitted through kissing, casual contacts or handshakes, hugging and sharing living quarters, personal objects, food and water.
Behavior and conditions that put individuals to greater risk of contracting HIV include:
- Having unprotected anal or vaginal sex
- Having other sexually transmitted infection
- Sharing contaminated needles, syringes and other injecting equipment
- Receiving unsafe blood transfusions, medical procedures that involve unsterile cutting of piercing
- accidental needle stick injusries
An HIV test reveals infection status by detecting the presence or absence of antibodies to HIV in the blood. Most people have a “window period”, usually 3 to 6 weeks, during which antibodies to HIV are still being produced and are not yet detectable. If someone has had a recent possible HIV exposure, retesting should be done after 6 weeks to confirm test results.
There is NO vaccine and NO cure for HIV.
Anti-retroviral medication (ART) does not cure HIV infection but controls viral replication within a person’s body and allows individual’s immune system to strengthen and regain the capacity to fight off infections. With ART, people living with HIV can live healthy and productive lives.