Hiv Treatment & Undetectable
Todays HIV treatments, called antiretroviral therapy or ART, are extremely effective. Some treatments are a single tablet. Long-acting injectable medications are likely to be approved and available soon. Medicine has come a long way since the first HIV treatment options became available in the 1990s.
There is still no functional cure for HIV, but ART can help people live long, healthy lives. Todays medications are provided in combinations that reduce a persons viral load to levels so low its undetectable. People who become undetectable cannot transmit the virus to others.
Viral load is a term that describes how much virus a person living with HIV has in their body.
Without HIV medications, the virus replicates which causes the amount of virus in the body to increase.
HIV medications prevent HIV from making copies of itself. Then, the amount of HIV in the body goes down.
To see how well HIV treatments are working, doctors and other providers measure the amount of virus in the blood and report a measurement called your viral load. Its simply a measurement of how many copies of the virus are in a single unit of blood.
A very low amount of virus may even be undetectable by viral load tests . A common undetectable level is < 20 copies per milliliter of blood. Low viral loads are those that are less than 200 copies per milliliter. Very high viral loads can be over 500,000 copies per milliliter.
Is It True That Gay Men Are More At Risk For Hiv Than Other People
Although anyone can be at risk for HIV, some people can be more at risk depending upon the types of sexual practices and drug use they are engaging in. Being gay does not necessarily mean you are at higher risk, but certain activities gay men sometimes participate in might put them at greater risk. Overall, the gay male population in Canada has higher rates of HIV infection than some other populations. Stigma and homophobia can affect a person’s ability to access information about safer sex specifically for gay men.
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.
You May Like: How Do You Catch Hiv
Isnt Hiv Only A Risk For Certain Groups Of People
Like most illnesses, HIV doesnt discriminate between types of people and the infection can be passed on to anyone via one of the ways mentioned above.
Some people are more vulnerable to HIV infection if they engage regularly in certain activities that are more likely to transmit the virus. However, its a common misunderstanding that HIV only affects certain groups.
While not everyone has the same level of HIV risk, everyone can reduce their risk of infection.
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 medication to a mother and her newborn baby
- giving birth by caesarean section
- not breastfeeding
You can’t 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
You May Like: Can You Get Hiv From Protected Sex
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.
Saliva Sweat Tears Urine Or Feces
HIV cannot be spread by sharing drinking glasses or by casual kissing. The risk of spreading the virus through “deep” kissing in which large amounts of saliva are exchanged is extremely low. Only one unproven case has ever been reported.
No cases of HIV spread have ever been reported after a person has come in contact with the sweat, tears, urine, or feces of an HIV-infected person.
Also Check: How Does Hiv Become Aids
How To Prevent Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by a virus . It can be serious and theres no cure, but the good news is its easy to prevent. You can protect yourself by getting the hepatitis B vaccine and having safer sex. If you have oral, anal, and vaginal sex, use condoms and dental dams to help stop the spread of hepatitis B and other STDs.
When Is Oral Sex More Risky
sexually transmitted infections
Although HIV can be sexually transmitted, the term is most often used to refer to chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes, scabies, trichomonas vaginalis, etc.
If you are living with HIV, there is a higher risk of passing on HIV through someone performing oral sex on you, if you are not taking treatment and if you also have an untreated sexually transmitted infection. If you don’t have HIV and you are performing oral sex on someone who does have HIV, you are at more risk of acquiring HIV if you have cuts, sores or abrasions in your mouth or on your gums. There is also more risk if you have an infection in your throat or mouth which is causing inflammation.
For men, having a high viral load in the blood may also mean that viral load is high in the semen. Factors like untreated sexually transmitted infections can cause viral load in semen to increase.
For women, the levels of HIV in vaginal fluid vary. They are likely to be highest around the time of menstruation , when HIV-bearing cells shed from the cervix are most likely to be found in vaginal fluid, along with blood. Oral sex will therefore be more risky around the time of menstruation.
Read Also: How Soon Should I Get Tested For Hiv After Exposure
How Can You Get Hiv
HIV is found in the following bodily fluids of someone living with the virus:
- vaginal fluids
For you to get HIV, these bodily fluids need to get into your blood through a mucous membrane , via shared injecting equipment, or through broken skin .
There is not enough HIV virus in other bodily fluids, like saliva, sweat or urine, to transmit it from one person to another.
Someone living with HIV who has an undetectable viral load, meaning effective treatment has lowered the amount of virus in their blood to levels where it cannot be detected by a normal blood test, cannot pass on HIV.
A person living with HIV with a detectable viral load can pass the virus to others whether they have symptoms or not.
HIV is most infectious in the first few weeks after infection. At this time many people are unaware of their status.
The main ways you can get HIV are:
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.
Also Check: Can Cbc Test Detect Hiv
Can I Become Infected With Hiv If I Inject Drugs And Share The Needles With Someone Else Without Sterilizing The Needles
We strongly recommend that you use new equipment every time you inject. You can get new equipment from Counterpoint Needle & Syringe Program at Regional HIV/AIDS Connection.
There is a possibility of becoming infected with HIV if you share injecting equipment with someone who has the virus. If HIV infected blood remains inside the needle or in the syringe and someone else then uses it to inject themselves, that blood can be flushed into the bloodstream. Sharing needles, syringes, spoons, filters or water can pass on the virus. Disinfecting equipment between uses can reduce the likelihood of transmission, but does not eliminate it.
Can The Virus Be Transmitted Through Breastfeeding
Yes, HIV is present in infectious amounts in breast milk. HIV can be passed from an HIV infected mother to her baby through breastfeeding. Most HIV+ children in the Caribbean have been infected through mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
This can be prevented when an HIV infected mother does not breastfeed her baby and uses other alternate milk recommended by her doctor. More information on HIV and pregnancy can be found here.
Don’t Miss: How To Clean Hiv Positive Blood Spill
What Are The Chances Of Becoming Infected If He Doesnt Ejaculate Inside Me
While research suggests that high concentrations of HIV can sometimes be detected in precum, it is difficult to judge whether HIV is present in sufficient quantities for infection to occur. To guard against the possibility of infection with HIV or any other STI it is best to practice safer sex by using condoms.
Hiv And Maternal Transmission
HIV can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or through breastfeeding. If left untreated throughout these stages, there is a 15-45% chance of an HIV positive mother transmitting the virus to their child . However there are treatment options to prevent this from happening.
If pregnancy occurs and there has been potential HIV exposure, ask a healthcare provider about getting tested for HIV as early as possible. Taking medications called antiretroviral therapy as prescribed can reduce the viral load so that the baby has a very low chance of contracting HIV .
A person with HIV should not breastfeed their child, as breast milk can transmit HIV. Even if a person is taking ART and their viral loads are undetectable, they should still not breastfeed.
Read Also: When Did Magic Get Hiv
Tattoos And Body Piercings
- There are no known cases in the United States of anyone getting HIV this way.
- However, it is possible to get HIV from tattooing or body piercing if the equipment used for these procedures has someone elses blood in it or if the ink is shared. This is more likely to happen when the person doing the procedure is unlicensed because of the potential for unsanitary practices such as sharing needles or ink.
- If you get a tattoo or a body piercing, be sure that the person doing the procedure is properly licensed and that they use only new or sterilized needles, ink, and other supplies.
Can You Catch Hiv From Kissing
No. Evidence shows that the HIV virus is spread through the exchange of bodily fluids such as blood, semen and vaginal fluids, but not saliva.
Although HIV can be detected in saliva, it can’t be passed to other people through kissing because a combination of antibodies and enzymes found naturally in saliva prevent HIV infecting new cells.
Also Check: Is Hiv Transmitted From Dental Unit Water
Sharing Drinks With Others: Can I Actually Catch A Disease
One thing that has become very clear over the last decade or so is how thirsty we’ve all become. It seems like everyone has a bottle of water or some other drink with them at all times. Which is probably good — the health benefits of water are well-known.
But all these bottles of water floating around lead to a lot of sharing drinks with others. Probably because it’s so easy to do . Plus, you have the age-old “ooh that looks good, can I have a sip of that?” to try someone else’s drink.
So this leads to the question — is sharing drinks healthy? Can you catch diseases or other sicknesses from sharing drinks?
The answer is a resounding “yes” — some diseases/sicknesses, anyway. Since there’s almost certain to be saliva involved in any sharing of drinks, salivary transfer of germs/viruses/etc. is going to happen. The most common are the ones you’d expect . We’re talking strep throat, the common cold, and mumps being the big three. There’s also the rarer meningitis.
Those are the main ones that can be transmitted via saliva. There are a few more I’d like to mention — I’ve gone on extensively about cold sores here in my blog posts, which can be transmitted via saliva and kissing, so we can safely add that one to the list as well. And there’s also mononucleosis, which is sometimes called the “kissing disease” — that can go on the list, too.
You know what that says to me? That says don’t share forks with someone who has hepatitis B.
Until next time, keep smiling!
How Do I Protect Myself From Hiv
There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from HIV, including:
- using a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex
- in some countries PrEP is available. This is a course of HIV drugs which if taken consistently as advised by your healthcare professional prevents HIV infection through sex
- avoiding sharing needles, syringes and other injecting equipment
- taking HIV treatment if you are a new or expectant mother living with HIV, as this will dramatically reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding
- asking your healthcare professional if the blood product you are receiving has been tested for HIV
- taking precautions if you are a healthcare worker, such as wearing protection , washing hands after contact with blood and other bodily fluids, and safely disposing of sharp equipment
- if you think you have been exposed to HIV you may be able to access PEP, a 4-week course of ARV drugs taken after possible HIV exposure to prevent HIV infection. You must start PEP within 72 hours of possible exposure to be effective.
For more detailed information on how to prevent HIV infection visit the relevant page from the listed below:
Also Check: Is Hiv And Herpes The Same
Can I Get Hiv From A Mosquito
No, it is not possible to get HIV from mosquitoes or other biting and bloodsucking insects. The results of experiments and observations of insect biting behavior indicate that when an insect bites a person, it does not inject its own or a previously bitten person’s or animal’s blood into the next person bitten. Rather, it injects saliva, which acts as a lubricant so the insect can feed efficiently.
Diseases, such as yellow fever and malaria are transmitted through the saliva of specific species of mosquitoes. However, HIV lives for only a short time inside an insect. Unlike organisms that are transmitted via insect bites, HIV does not reproduce in insects. Thus, even if the virus enters a mosquito or another insect, the insect does not become infected and cannot transmit HIV to the next human it bites.
There are several reasons why a mosquito or other insect cannot transmit HIV from one person to another even if there is HIV-infected blood left on its mouth parts: 1) Infected people do not have constantly high levels of HIV in their blood streams. 2) Insect mouth parts retain no blood on their surfaces. 3) Finally, scientists who study insects have determined that biting insects normally do not travel from one person to the next immediately after ingesting blood. Rather, they fly to a resting place to digest the blood meal. Epidemiological studies have shown no relationship at all between HIV and the existence of mosquitos or mosquito bites.
If I Get Infected Fluid From An Hiv
No, HIV is not always passed on from someone living with HIV. There are lots of reasons why this is the case. For example, if the HIV-positive person is on effective treatment it will reduce the amount of HIV in their body. If a doctor confirms that the virus has reached undetectable levels it means there is no risk of passing it on.
If youre concerned that youve been exposed to HIV you may be eligible to take post-exposure prophylaxis , which stops the virus from becoming an infection. However its not available everywhere and has to be taken within 72 hours of possible exposure to be effective.
Its really important to take a HIV test every time you think you have been at risk of HIV.
Recommended Reading: When Did The Hiv Epidemic Start