Doubts Persist Even When Risk Is Statistically Zero
Despite increased public awareness about HIV, there remains a lot of confusion about how you can get infected and how you cannot. For example, even though people understand that you can’t get HIV from utensils, there are many who will experience a twinge of concern if they learned that the chef of their favorite restaurant has HIV.
HIV has a way of spurring anxieties in even the best of us and, with it, our sense of reason. Relieving those anxieties often requires us to do more than just lay out the rules. Instead, we need to understand what conditions are required for an infection to take place and why things like hugging, touching, sneezing, or kissing simply do not satisfy those conditions.
Myth : Theres A Cure For Hiv
While antiretroviral therapy can substantially reduce the amount of HIV in a persons blood, its not a cure. If an HIV-positive person suddenly stops taking their meds, the amount of virus in their blood can skyrocket.
Even skipping doses of the meds can allow HIV to change form and potentially become resistant to the drugs, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
The key to living well with HIV and avoiding transmission to others is to get treatment as early as possible and take those meds daily as prescribed.
Myth : Hiv And Aids Are The Same Thing
We get it: HIV and AIDS have been lumped together for so long that many people assume theyre the same thing.
But lets get the facts straight. HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, while AIDS is a condition that can develop after HIV has caused serious damage.
You can live with HIV and stay healthy for decades without ever developing AIDS, as long as you get treatment. Otherwise, HIV can progress to AIDS in three stages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention :
Once upon a time, HIV was sort of seen as a death sentence because of that progression to AIDS. But thanks to treatment options that have been developed over the years, most people with HIV never reach a late-stage infection and often have long, healthy lives.
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How Is It Diagnosed
For cisgender women and anyone else with a cervix, HPV is usually diagnosed after a Pap smear produces an abnormal result.
Your provider may order a second Pap smear to confirm the original result or move straight to a cervical HPV test.
With this test, your provider will test cells from your cervix specifically for HPV.
If they detect a type that may be cancerous, they may perform a colposcopy to look for lesions and other abnormalities on the cervix.
Your provider can also examine any bumps that appear on the mouth, genitals, or anus to determine if theyre HPV-related warts.
Your provider may recommend or perform an anal Pap smear, especially if you develop anal warts or other unusual symptoms.
For cisgender men and other people assigned male at birth, theres not currently a test for HPV.
Can I Transmit Hiv To My Baby During Pregnancy Or Breastfeeding
An HIV-infected pregnant woman can pass the virus on to her unborn baby either before or during birth. HIV can also be passed on during breastfeeding. If a woman knows that she is infected with HIV, there are drugs she can take to greatly reduce the chances of her child becoming infected. Other ways to lower the risk include choosing to have a caesarean section delivery and not breastfeeding.
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Ways That Hiv Is Not Transmitted
HIV is not transmitted by day-to-day activities or by contact with objects, food or clothes.
The following list includes just a few examples of questions we get from people worried about catching HIV.
Most of these questions come from a combination of fear and ignorance. They come from a lack of confidence in understanding HIV transmission.
You can NOT catch HIV from:
- Eating any food, cooked or uncooked, with blood on it.
- From a sterile needle at a clinic or other health centre.
- From a human bite.
- From an insect bite including a mosquito bite.
- From an animal.
- From living in the same house as someone who is HIV positive.
- From a sewing needle if you stab your finger.
- From blood on a bus seat that went through your underwear.
- Cleaning nail clippers.
- Using a knife/fork/spoon/cup/plate that an HIV positive person may have used.
- Getting sexual fluid on skin.
- Getting sexual fluid on a cut that has already healed over. A cut has to be open to be a risk of HIV.
The above are all real examples sent as questions to i-Base. They show that ignorance about HIV is still common.
Does Hiv Viral Load Affect Getting Or Transmitting Hiv
Yes. Viral load is the amount of HIV in the blood of someone who has HIV. Taking HIV medicine daily as prescribed can make the viral load very lowso low that a test cant detect it .
People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
HIV medicine is a powerful tool for preventing sexual transmission of HIV. But it works only as long as the HIV-positive partner gets and keeps an undetectable viral load. Not everyone taking HIV medicine has an undetectable viral load. To stay undetectable, people with HIV must take HIV medicine every day as prescribed and visit their healthcare provider regularly to get a viral load test. Learn more.
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Aids Phobia And Conspiracy Theorists
With that being said, there are people who still fear that infection is possible from the unlikely sources, including touching, mosquitos, shared grooming products, and, kissing. AIDS phobia, the paralyzing and unreasonable fear of HIV, plays a huge part in these beliefs. At other times, a person may prescribe to contrarian view about HIV or are simply misinformed about HIV in general.
For these individuals, counseling with a qualified professional may be needed as well as psychotherapy for those experiencing extreme anxiety or depression. Additionally, if the person is at risk of acquiring HIV or in a mixed-status relationship, doctors may want to consider prescribing HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis , a once-daily pill that can reduce the risk of HIV by more than 90%.
HIV Doctor Discussion Guide
Sharing Toothbrushes + Mouthguards
Ever forget a toothbrush and borrow your partners? The American Dental Association advises against this practice.
Toothbrushes may cause microtrauma. Someone elses saliva can come in contact with tears in your mucous membrane and transmit infection, explains Dr. Benninger.
Sharing toothbrushes is especially risky if you have a weakened immune system.
Have a cold, sore throat or other virus? Keep your toothbrush from touching the family toothpaste and others toothbrushes.
There are also several types of mouthguards those that protect your teeth, mouth and jaw during sports, and help keep you from grinding your teeth at night.
You can get stock mouthguards from a sporting goods store, bite and boil mouthguards from a drugstore, or custom-made mouthguards from your dentist.
Whatever type you use, mouthguards, which are porous, should never be shared. A 2007 study, reported in General Dentistry, found that mouthguards harbor bacteria, yeasts and molds.
Someone elses mouthguard may fit very poorly and cause microtrauma, says Dr. Benninger. This can expose your mucous membranes to infection.
If you wear a mouthguard, be sure to:
- Brush your teeth before inserting it.
- Clean it whenever you brush your teeth.
- Store it in a case.
- Avoid chewing on it.
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Is Unprotected Anal Intercourse More Of An Hiv Risk Than Vaginal Or Oral Sex
Unprotected anal intercourse does carry a higher risk than most other forms of sexual activity. The lining of the rectum has fewer cells than that of the vagina, and therefore can be damaged more easily, causing bleeding during intercourse. This can then be a route into the bloodstream for infected sexual fluids or blood. There is also a risk to the insertive partner during anal intercourse, though this is lower than the risk to the receptive partner.
Can Kissing An Hiv Positive Person Cause An Hiv Infection
No, a person cannot spread HIV through kissing. Although HIV can be present in very small amounts in saliva, there are proteins and enzymes found naturally in saliva which reduce the infectiousness of HIV, making it impossible for the virus to spread through kissing.
HIV can only survive in certain body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, anal mucous and breast milk – HIV spreads through the exchange of these bodily fluids. Sexual intercourse, including oral and anal sex, without the use of a condom is the most common way that HIV spreads. HIV can also spread by sharing needles with someone who is infected with the virus, and very rarely it can be passed from an HIV positive pregnant woman to her unborn baby.
If you think you may have been exposed to HIV in the last three days, you should contact our local sexual health clinic immediately to get PEP, that can prevent infection even after exposure, if taken within 72 hours. If you believe the exposure might have happened earlier, make sure to consider the window period before taking an HIV test.
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Myth : Theres No Treatment For Hiv
Sure, the early days of HIV and AIDS were grim, just given how little people knew about the virus and the condition.
But treatment has come a long way since the 80s. Today, antiretroviral medications can greatly reduce the amount of the virus in a persons body, often to the point that HIV no longer shows up on blood tests.
When that happens, the person has effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to others. Plus, it helps prevent HIV from progressing.
On World Aids Day Thehealthsitecom Spoke To Dr Deepak Verma Consultant Internal Medicine Manipal Hospital Ghaziabad To Understand Everything About This Condition And Myths That One Can Now Put At Rest
Written by Satata Karmakar | Published : December 1, 2021 4:12 PM IST
HIV and AIDS might sound similar, but HIV is basically a virus that has infected human beings, but when we say it is AIDS, then this infection has progressed to such an extent that there is an immunodeficiency, to the extent that the patient comes with severe infections with rare microorganisms HIV positive individuals need not develop AIDS. It is important to understand that if a person who tested positive for HIV and with time management, proper medicines, preventive vaccination, and health check-up the HIV positive individual can lead a normal life.In such cases, HIV will not ever progress to the stage of AIDS. Today, On World AIDS Day, TheHealthSite.com spoke toDr. Deepak Verma, consultant internal medicine, Manipal Hospital, Ghaziabad to understand everything about this condition and myths that one can now put at rest.
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Conditions Needed To Transmit Hiv
As serious an infection as HIV is, the virus itself is not all that robust. Others, like the flu and cold viruses, are far more sturdy and can be passed from one person to next by sneezing. HIV cannot. Instead, there four conditions that must take place in order for infection to occur:
- There must be body fluids in which HIV can thrive. For HIV, this meanssemen, blood, vaginal fluids, or breast milk. HIV cannot survive for very long in the open air or in parts of the body where is high acid content .
- There must be a way for body fluids to enter the body. This happens primarily through sexual contact but can also be spread through , accidental blood exposure in healthcare settings, or transmission of the virus from mother to child during pregnancy.
- The virus must be able to reach vulnerable cells inside the body. Skin contact with a body fluid is not enough.It needs to enter the bloodstream through a break in the skin or penetrate vulnerable mucosal tissues of the vagina or rectum. The depth and size of the penetration also matter, with a deep cut being riskier than a scrape.
- There must be sufficient amounts of virus in the body fluid. This is why saliva, sweat, and tears are unlikely sources of infection since the enzymes in these fluids actively break down HIV and its genetic structure.
Can You Get Hiv From Kissing
It is very unlikely to get HIV from kissing someone who has the virus.
HIV can only be found in saliva in trace amounts and the natural enzymes and antibodies in your saliva prevent the virus from infecting new cells.
“To get HIV, you need to have enough of the virus particulates in your bodily fluids. The highest amounts of the virus particulates live in blood, semen, and vaginal fluids. You have a few particles in the saliva but it’s not enough to infect you,” says Stella Safo, MD, an HIV primary care provider at Mount Sinai Health System, New York.
But Safo says that you should be wary of kissing someone with HIV if they have gaping mouth sores or cuts.
“The only way you could get HIV from kissing is if you had big cuts in your mouth and kissed someone with big cuts in their mouth, and there is an exchange of blood. However, that isn’t how a regular kissing experience typically goes,” Safo says.
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Is There Anything You Can Do To Reduce Your Risk Of Oral Hpv
There are a few things you can do to reduce your risk, including:
- Be informed. The more you know about what HPV is and how its transmitted, the more you can avoid situations in which you might transmit or contract it.
- Practice safe sex. Using condoms or dental dams during oral sex can reduce your risk of transmission.
- Get tested. You and your partner should get tested regularly for STIs. Anyone with a cervix should also get regular Pap smears. This increases your chances of detecting an infection early and preventing transmission.
- Communicate. Talk to your partner about your sexual histories and other partners you may have, so that you know if anyone could be at risk.
- Limit your number of sexual partners. Generally speaking, having more sexual partners can increase your chances of coming into contact with HPV.
If you do contract HPV, theres no reason to be ashamed.
Almost everyone whos sexually active up to 80 percent contracts at least one form of HPV during their lifetime.
This includes people whove only had one sexual partner, people whove more than a few, and everyone in between.
The HPV vaccine can help reduce your risk of contracting the strains most likely to cause certain cancers or warts.
Newer research also suggests that the vaccine can help reduce your risk of contracting oral HPV, specifically.
One study showed oral HPV infections at an 88 percent lower rate among young adults who got at least one dose of the HPV vaccine.
How Is Hiv Spread
HIV is spread through the exchange of particular bodily fluids like semen, breast milk, and blood.
Important: The most common way HIV spreads is through sexual intercourse. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 138 people per 10,000 exposures are at risk of getting HIV through receptive anal sex.
Other common ways in which you can be infected with HIV include:
- Anal sex: Anal sex is the riskiest type of sex to have with a person who has HIV. It becomes even riskier if you are on the receiving end during intercourse. This is because the lining of the rectum is very thin, and can allow the virus to easily pass through.
- Penetrative vaginal sex: This is not as risky as anal sex, but is still a very common way for the virus to be spread. Here either party can contract the virus.
- Sharing needles and syringes: Sharing needles and syringes for steroids, drugs, or hormones with a person who has HIV puts you at high risk of getting the virus.
- Through pregnancy and breastfeeding: HIV can sometimes be passed from a mother to her baby through pregnancy and breastfeeding. This is known as perinatal transmission. It’s uncommon for this to occur if the mother is aware of her status and is receiving adequate treatment.
HIV can also be spread in other ways. However, these are rarer:
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How Hiv Is Spread
The most common way that HIV is spread is through sexual intercourse, including oral and anal sex.
The virus can also be spread through sharing needles, and it can be passed from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn baby.
But steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of HIV being passed on to a baby, making transmission in this way rare in the UK.
For example, the risk of transmission can be reduced by:
- giving antiretroviral medicine to a mother and her newborn baby
- giving birth by caesarean section
- not breastfeeding
You cannot catch HIV from:
- giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
- being sneezed on by someone with HIV
- sharing baths, towels or cutlery with someone with HIV
- swimming in a pool that’s been used by someone with HIV
- sitting on a toilet seat that someone with HIV has sat on