How Hiv Is Transmitted
The first step in determining whether you are at risk of HIV is to better understand how the virus is transmitted.
HIV thrives in certain body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. Most people get infected when exposed to HIV through these fluids.
HIV is transmitted through:
HIV can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth, although this is less common in the developed world due to advances in prevention and treatment.
It is important to note that HIV cannot penetrate intact skin. The virus can enter the body either through porous mucosal tissues , through breaks in vulnerable tissues , or directly through the bloodstream.
HIV infection can occur with just one exposure, particularly in high-risk individuals.
By contrast, HIV does not thrive in saliva, urine, tears, or feces and cannot survive in infectious quantities when exposed to air and environmental conditions.
Taking Hiv Medication To Stay Healthy And Prevent Transmission
If you have HIV, it is important to start treatment with HIV medication as soon as possible after your diagnosis.
If taken every day, exactly as prescribed, HIV medication can reduce the amount of HIV in your blood to a very low level. This is called viral suppression. It is called viral suppression because HIV medication prevents the virus from growing in your body and keeps the virus very low or suppressed. Viral suppression helps keep you healthy and prevents illness.
If your viral load is so low that it doesnt show up in a standard lab test, this is called having an undetectable viral load. People living with HIV can get and keep an undetectable viral load by taking HIV medication every day, exactly as prescribed. Almost everyone who takes HIV medication daily as prescribed can achieve an undetectable viral load, usually within 6 months after starting treatment.
There are important health benefits to getting the viral load as low as possible. People living with HIV who know their status, take HIV medication daily as prescribed, and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long, healthy lives.
There is also a major prevention benefit. People living with HIV who take HIV medication daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
What Should I Do If I Think I Could Have Hiv
Only an HIV test can tell you whether you have HIV.
Try not to guess based on any symptoms you may or may not have, or on the HIV status of a person you have had sex with.
If you test, tell whoever tests you if youve recently taken risks or had symptoms similar to seroconversion illness, as this will affect the kind of HIV test you should have.
To be on the safe side, and until you know your test result, use condoms to protect anyone you have sex with.
You can also call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.
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The Most Common Symptoms Of Seroconversion Are:
- sore throat
- rash over the body.
Seroconversion is a sign that the immune system is reacting to the presence of the virus in the body. Its also the point at which the body produces antibodies to HIV. Once seroconversion has happened, an HIV test will detect antibodies and give a positive result.
Seroconversion illness happens to most people shortly after infection. It can be severe enough to put someone in hospital or so mild that its mistaken for something like flu although a blocked or runny nose is not usually a symptom.
If you do have HIV, your body fluids are highly infectious during the early weeks and months after transmission. However, once youre on effective treatment and your viral load becomes undetectable you cannot pass on HIV.
It can take up to six months from starting treatment to become undetectable.
Can I Get Hiv At The Dentist’s Office
Due to the nature of the dental treatment, many people fear that HIV may be transmitted during treatment. Universal standard precautions, as described by the CDC, are used for every patient to prevent the transmission of HIV and other infectious diseases.
These precautions require dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants to wear gloves, facemasks, and eye protection and sterilize all handpieces and other dental instruments for every patient-specific sterilization procedures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control. Items that cannot be sterilized are discarded in special containers. After each patient visit, your dental professionals will discard their gloves, wash their hands, and put on a new pair of gloves for the next patient.
If you’re feeling anxious, it can be helpful to spend a few minutes asking your dentist any questions you may have about health and safety precautions. This way, you can put your mind at ease.
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What Are Some Common Myths About People Living With Hiv
There is still a great deal of stigma directed towards those living with HIV. While many people are met with understanding and support, there is a chance that sharing information about your health could go badly.
This is often linked to outdated or limited knowledge about HIV. Some common myths about HIV could cause your employer to react badly:
- All those living with HIV will eventually progress to AIDS and will therefore become a burden
- You will need to take an excessive amount of time off work to manage your HIV
- HIV can be spread through sharing items such as utensils
- HIV can be spread through cuts, bites and so forth
- There are many jobs people with HIV cannot do because they pose a risk to others
- Most people living with HIV are promiscuous or irresponsible
In fact, the vast majority of people living in the UK with HIV are on successful antiretroviral treatment and their health is well-monitored. This leads to a suppression of the virus in their blood until it reaches undetectable levels. People with HIV who have an undetectable viral load are expected to live long, healthy lives. In addition, they cannot infect others through sexual contact.
HIV is not spread through sharing of personal items or through means such as saliva exchange or biting.
Currently in the UK, very few people living with HIV go on to develop AIDS or any AIDS-related complications.
What Are The Treatments For Hiv/aids
There is no cure for HIV infection, but it can be treated with medicines. This is called antiretroviral therapy . ART can make HIV infection a manageable chronic condition. It also reduces the risk of spreading the virus to others.
Most people with HIV live long and healthy lives if they get and stay on ART. It’s also important to take care of yourself. Making sure that you have the support you need, living a healthy lifestyle, and getting regular medical care can help you enjoy a better quality of life.
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How Are Hiv And Aids Treated
Medicines can help people with HIV stay healthy. They can also prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS.
Health care providers prescribe a combination of different medicines for people with HIV and AIDS. They must be taken exactly as prescribed or they wont work. These medicines:
- help keep the number of CD4 cells high
- reduce the viral load of HIV
Regular blood tests will check the number of CD4 cells in the body and the viral load.
If an HIV-positive persons CD4 count gets low, doctors prescribe daily antibiotics. This prevents pneumocystis pneumonia, which happens in people with weakened immune systems.
Stage : The Asymptomatic Stage
Once a person has been through the acute primary infection stage and seroconversion process, they can often start to feel better. In fact, HIV may not cause any other symptoms for up to 10 or even 15 years .
However, the virus will still be active, infecting new cells and making copies of itself. HIV can still be passed on during this stage. If left untreated, over time, HIV infection will cause severe damage to the immune system.
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How Do We Know Treatment As Prevention Works
Large research studies with newer HIV medications have shown that treatment is prevention. These studies monitored thousands of male-female and male-male couples in which one partner has HIV and the other does not over several years. No HIV transmissions were observed when the HIV-positive partner was virally suppressed. This means that if you keep your viral load undetectable, there is effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to someone you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex with. Read about the scientific evidence.
How Can I Get Tested
To get tested, you can:
- Ask your doctor to test you.
- Go to a local clinic or community health center.
- Go to National HIV and STD Testing Resources to find a testing center near you.
- Buy a test at a pharmacy and do the test at home.
Many testing centers will do an HIV test for free. Ask if there is a fee before you go for testing. In most states you do not need a parent’s permission to get tested for HIV. And you can buy the test at the pharmacy without a parent.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Hiv And Aids
When first infected with HIV, a person may have:
- increased number of infections
- infections that are more severe than is typical
Without treatment, HIV can lead to a very weakened immune system and progress to AIDS. Illnesses that happen in AIDS are called AIDS-defining conditions.
AIDS-defining conditions include:
Why Should Someone Get Tested For Hiv
If someone is infected with HIV, it’s important to know because:
- Starting medicines right away can keep a person stay healthy for a long time.
- There are ways to stop the spread of HIV to others, such as using a condom and taking medicines.
- A pregnant woman who is infected can get treatment to try to prevent passing HIV to her baby.
Another reason to get tested is peace of mind: A negative test result can be a big relief for someone who is worried about being infected.
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Tests For Hiv And Aids
Blood tests are the most common way to diagnose the human immunodeficiency virus , the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome . These tests look for antibodies to the virus that are present in the blood of infected individuals. People exposed to the virus should get tested immediately.
Early testing is crucial with HIV. If you test positive for the virus, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan to help fight HIV and ward off complications. Early testing also can alert you to avoid high-risk behavior that could spread the virus to others.
Because it can take from six weeks to six months to develop antibodies to the virus, follow-up tests may be needed. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history and risk factors and perform a physical examination.
The primary tests for diagnosing HIV and AIDs include:
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
A Timeline Of Hiv Symptoms
What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that compromises the immune system. Theres currently no cure for it, but there are treatments available to reduce its effects on peoples lives.
In the majority of cases, once HIV infection takes hold, the virus stays in the body for life. However, unlike what may occur with infections by other types of viruses, HIV symptoms dont suddenly appear and peak overnight.
If left untreated, the disease progresses over time through three stages, each with its own set of possible symptoms and complications some severe.
Regular antiretroviral treatment can reduce HIV to undetectable levels in the blood. At undetectable levels, the virus wont progress to the later stages of HIV infection. In addition, the virus cant be transmitted to a partner during sex.
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How Can You Tell If You Have Hiv
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. You cant rely on symptoms to tell whether you have HIV.
Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information so you can take steps to keep yourself and your partner healthy:
- If you test positive, you can take medicine to treat HIV. By taking HIV medicine daily as prescribed, you can make the amount of HIV in your blood very lowso low that a test cant detect it . Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load is the best thing you can do to stay healthy. If your viral load stays undetectable, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
- If you test negative, there are more HIV prevention tools available today than ever before.
- If you are pregnant, you should be tested for HIV so that you can begin treatment if you’re HIV-positive. If an HIV-positive woman is treated for HIV early in her pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby can be very low.
Use the HIV Services Locator to find an HIV testing site near you.
HIV self-testing is also an option. Self-testing allows people to take an HIV test and find out their result in their own home or other private location. You can buy a self-test kit at a pharmacy or online, or your health care provider may be able to order one for you. Some health departments or community-based organizations also provide self-test kits for free.
How Is Hiv Transmitted Or Spread
The following are the means by which the HIV virus is spread:
Vertical transmission. HIV can be spread to babies born to, or breastfed by, mothers infected with the virus.
Sexual contact. In adults and adolescents, HIV is spread most commonly by sexual contact with an infected partner. The virus enters the body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, or abraded or irritated tissues in the lining of the mouth through sexual activity.
Blood contamination. HIV may also be spread through contact with infected blood. However, due to the screening of donated blood for evidence of HIV infection, the risk of acquiring HIV from blood transfusions is extremely low.
Needles. HIV is frequently spread by sharing needles, syringes, or drug use equipment with someone who is infected with the virus. Transmission from patient to health care worker, or vice-versa, through accidental sticks with contaminated needles or other medical instruments, is rare.
No known cases of HIV/AIDS have been spread by the following:
Enlarged lymph nodes
An HIV-infected child is usually diagnosed with AIDS when the immune system becomes severely damaged or other types of infections occur. As the immune system deteriorates, complications begin to develop. The following are some common complications, or symptoms, of the onset of AIDS. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
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How Can A Woman Reduce Her Chances Of Contracting Hiv
HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids like blood and semen. Using injection drugs, having unprotected sex and having multiple sex partners increases the chances of acquiring HIV. The only way to be absolutely certain you do not become infected with HIV is to not have sex and not use injection drugs. You also can avoid infection by only having one sex partner as long as your partner does not have HIV and has sex only with you. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention , using a male or female condom every time you have vaginal or anal sex can greatly lower your risk of infection. Using condoms for oral sex will reduce your risk for other STDs as well. It also is important not to douche, since douching removes some of the normal vaginal bacteria that can protect you from infection.
Keep Taking Your Hiv Medication To Stay Undetectable
HIV is still in your body when your viral load is suppressed, even when it is undetectable. So, you need to keep taking your HIV medication daily as prescribed. When your viral load stays undetectable, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex. If you stop taking HIV medication, your viral load will quickly go back up.
If you have stopped taking your HIV medication or are having trouble taking all the doses as prescribed, talk to your health care provider as soon as possible. Your provider can help you get back on track and discuss the best strategies to prevent transmitting HIV through sex while you get your viral load undetectable again.
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Second Stage: Clinical Latency Symptoms
After your immune system loses the battle with HIV, the flu-like symptoms will go away. But thereâs a lot going on inside your body. Doctors call this the asymptomatic period or chronic HIV infection.
In your body, cells called CD4 T cells coordinate your immune systemâs response. During this stage, untreated HIV will kill CD4 cells and destroy your immune system. Your doctor can check how many of these cells you have with blood tests. Without treatment, the number of CD4 cells will drop, and youâll be more likely to get other infections.
Most people dont have symptoms they can see or feel. You may not realize that youre infected and can pass HIV on to others.
If youâre taking ART, you might stay in this phase for decades. You can pass the virus on to other people, but itâs extremely rare if you take your medicines.