How Is Hiv Spread From Person To Person
HIV can only be spread through specific activities. In the United States, the most common ways are:
- Having vaginal or anal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV. Anal sex is riskier than vaginal sex.
- Sharing injection drug equipment , such as needles, with someone who has HIV.
Less common ways are:
- From mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. However, the use of HIV medicines and other strategies have helped lower the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV to 1% or less in the United States.
- Getting stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object. This is a risk mainly for health care workers. The risk is very low.
HIV is spread only in extremely rare cases by:
- Having oral sex. But in general, the chance that an HIV-negative person will get HIV from oral sex with an HIV-positive partner is extremely low.
How Hiv Infects The Body
HIV infects the immune system, causing progressive damage and eventually making it unable to fight off infections.
The virus attaches itself to immune system cells called CD4 lymphocyte cells, which protect the body against various bacteria, viruses and other germs.
Once attached, it enters the CD4 cells and uses it to make thousands of copies of itself. These copies then leave the CD4 cells, killing them in the process.
This process continues until eventually the number of CD4 cells, also called your CD4 count, drops so low that your immune system stops working.
This process may take up to 10 years, during which time you’ll feel and appear well.
Page last reviewed: 22 April 2021 Next review due: 22 April 2024
How Long Can Hiv Survive Outside The Body
Once outside the body, HIV usually cant survive for very long. Coming into contact with blood or semen that has been outside the body doesnt generally pose a risk for HIV transmission.
Similarly, the risk of passing on HIV to someone else if you have a detectable viral load and cut yourself is also very low. Wash away any blood with soap and hot water and cover the wound with a sticking plaster or dressing.
You May Like: Could You Have Hiv And Not Know
What Is Hiv What Is Aids
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s natural defence system. Without a strong immune system, the body has trouble fighting off disease. Both the virus and the infection it causes are called HIV.
White blood cells are an important part of the immune system. HIV infects and destroys certain white blood cells called CD4+ cells. If too many CD4+ cells are destroyed, the body can no longer defend itself against infection.
The last stage of HIV infection is AIDS . People with AIDS have a low number of CD4+ cells and get infections or cancers that rarely occur in healthy people. These can be deadly.
But having HIV doesn’t mean you have AIDS. Even without treatment, it takes a long time for HIV to progress to AIDSusually 10 to 12 years.
When HIV is diagnosed before it becomes AIDS, medicines can slow or stop the damage to the immune system. If AIDS does develop, medicines can often help the immune system return to a healthier state.
With treatment, many people with HIV are able to live long and active lives.
There are two types of HIV:
- HIV-1, which causes almost all the cases of AIDS worldwide
- HIV-2, which causes an AIDS-like illness. HIV-2 infection is uncommon in North America.
Telling Health Professionals About Your Hiv Status
It is important to tell your doctor, obstetrician or midwife about your HIV status as early as you can .
Telling your health team, helps to talk through any concerns you may have and ensure you receive treatment before that suits your needs, and is safe throughout pregnancy and after your baby is born.
Also, if your medical team knows about your HIV status, they can take steps to minimise the risk of accidental transmission during any medical procedures.
Recommended Reading: How Would You Know If You Have Hiv
If You Don’t Have A Doctor
Public health units and other organizations may provide free or low-cost, confidential testing and counselling about HIV and high-risk behaviour.
If you don’t have a doctor, contact one of the following for information on HIV testing in your area:
- Your local health unit
- CATIE: 1-800-263-1638 or online at www.catie.ca
Hiv Is An Infection That Can Lead To Aids
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Its a virus that breaks down certain cells in your immune system . When HIV damages your immune system, its easier to get really sick and even die from infections that your body could normally fight off.
About 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and more than 38,000 new infections happen every year. Most people with HIV dont have any symptoms for many years and feel totally fine, so they might not even know they have it.
Once you have HIV, the virus stays in your body for life. Theres no cure for HIV, but medicines can help you stay healthy. HIV medicine lowers or even stops your chances of spreading the virus to other people. Studies show that using HIV treatment as directed can lower the amount of HIV in your blood so much that it might not even show up on a test when this happens, you cant transmit HIV through sex.Treatment is really important . Without treatment, HIV can lead to AIDS. But with medicine, people with HIV can live long, healthy lives and stop the spread of HIV to others.
You May Like: What Happens When Hiv Enters The Body
New Hiv Diagnoses In The Us And Dependent Areas By Race/ethnicity 2019
*Black refers to people having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. African American is a term often used for people of African descent with ancestry in North America.Hispanic/Latino people can be of any race.
The most affected subpopulation is Black/African American gay and bisexual men.
New Hiv Diagnoses In The Us And Dependent Areas By Transmission Category 2019
NOTE: Does not include other and perinatal transmission categories.
Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2019. HIV Surveillance Report 2021 32.
If we look at HIV diagnoses by race and ethnicity, we see that Black/African American people are most affected by HIV. In 2019, Black/African American people accounted for 42% of all new HIV diagnoses. Additionally, Hispanic/Latino people are also strongly affected. They accounted for 29% of all new HIV diagnoses.
You May Like: When Is The Best Time To Be Tested For Hiv
What Is The Life Expectancy For People Living With Hiv In The Uk
A study published in 2014 looked at the outcomes of over 20,000 adults who started HIV treatment in the UK, between 2000 and 2010. The analysis didnt include people who inject drugs, who tend to have poorer outcomes than other people, but otherwise included a wide range of adults living with HIV.
The key finding was that people who had a good initial response to HIV treatment had a better life expectancy than people in the general population.
Specifically, a 35-year-old man who had a CD4 cell count over 350 and an undetectable viral load one year after starting HIV treatment could expect to live to the age of 81. A 50-year-old man with the same results after one year of treatment was predicted to live to the age of 83. In the general population at this time, men in these age groups were expected to live to 77 and 78 years.
“A person living with HIV has a similar life expectancy to an HIV-negative person providing they are diagnosed in good time, have good access to medical care, and are able to adhere to their HIV treatment.”
A 35-year-old woman and a 50-year-old woman with the same results could expect to live to 83 and 85 years. This compares to 82 and 83 years in the general population.
A 35-year-old man with any of those results could expect to live to 70-72 years. A 50-year-old man was predicted to live to 75-77 years. Women of the same ages could expect to live around two years longer than the men.
How Do I Get Tested For Hiv
A small blood sample, mouth swab, or urine sample is used to test people for HIV. It can take as long as three to six months after initial exposure for the signs of the virus to show up in your blood, and years before you show any symptoms.
You can be tested at a doctor’s office, hospital, community health center, or other health clinic. Some places have mobile testing vans. AIDS services organizations also may provide testing. At-home testing kits are also available.
Depending on where you go, testing may be free. You may be able to choose to take the test without giving your name. Many providers or groups that offer HIV testing also provide counseling.
If you choose to take a test at home, make sure to use a test that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration . If the test has not been approved by the FDA, it may not give accurate results. Home tests are sold at drugstores and online. Follow up with your doctor to confirm the results of at-home tests and, if necessary, begin treatment.
Also Check: Where To Get Help For Hiv
Prep Works In The Real World
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is the daily use of anti-HIV medication by HIV-negative people to prevent infection before an exposure. While this latest prevention tool has been met with caution and some skepticism, recent studies have demonstrated its efficacy if taken regularly and have eased fears that HIV-negative people might abandon other prevention strategies such as condoms.
What Should I Do If I Need To Clean Up Blood
HIV does not usually survive long outside of the body, but contact with blood should be avoided.
Hepatitis C can survive in dried blood at room temperature for several weeks, and hepatitis B can survive in dried blood for around a week outside the body.
To clean up blood that has been spilled, wear rubber gloves and mop up the liquid using bleach and warm water . Use warm, soapy water to clean away blood spilled on someones body.
Put the waste, used gloves and bloodied clothes in a plastic bag, seal and throw away.
Read Also: How To Live With Hiv
Prepare For An Aging Hiv Epidemic
As people continue to live longer with HIV, the demographics of the HIV-positive population are shifting. Once an infection primarily affecting young gay men in Canada, the proportion of HIV-positive people over the age of 50 has steadily increased in high-income countries. Combined with new HIV infections occurring at an older age, healthcare providers should expect to see an increased need for services from HIV-positive seniors in the coming years.
How many of these 10 things did you already know? What else has changed? Join the conversation on the CATIE Blog.
Unicefs Hiv And Aids Programme
Our programme focuses on the following three areas:
- Mother-to-child transmission: Women living with HIV must have access to services to keep them alive and stop the transmission of HIV to their babies during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding. Continued support, testing and retesting mothers and their babies during these times can prevent transmission.
- Paediatric treatment and care: Without treatment, half the babies living with HIV will die before their second birthdays. Early testing in infants and immediate treatment is the top priority for babies exposed to HIV. However, some lab tests can take weeks for a mother to receive the result of her babys HIV status. UNICEF is scaling up point-of-care diagnostics throughout sub-Saharan Africa by which infants can now be tested and started off on treatment the same day. We are also working to locate, link and retain those children who did not receive early testing or continued treatment and care.
- New HIV infections inadolescents: UNICEF promotes a combination of biomedical, behavioural and structural interventions to reduce HIV infections among adolescent girls and boys. These innovative solutions include pre-exposure prophylaxis , HIV self-testing, HIV sensitive protection services and mobile communication to improve access to treatment and care.
Don’t Miss: How To Tell You Have Hiv
Dabbling In Hiv Medicine Dabbling In Death
Seven of the 29 clinicians who answered the IAPAC Monthly survey listed “care by clinicians with limited HIV experience” as a leading contributor to deaths in their clinic. Although most survey respondents did not see meager experience as an immediate cause of death, clearly it can contribute to any of the other causes listed in . Several studies back that impression statistically.
Before the arrival of potent antiretrovirals, a landmark study of 403 men who got an AIDS diagnosis from 1984 through mid-1994 found that those treated by physicians with more HIV experience lived longer. After controlling for severity of illness and year of diagnosis, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle determined that men cared for by clinicians with the most HIV experience had a 31 percent lower risk of death than men seen by clinicians with the least experience .
Putting more powerful drugs into inexperienced clinicians’ hands didn’t solve this problem. Indeed, it may have made things worse by fueling the evolution of drug-resistant virus. In Germany, Mauss told IAPAC Monthly he has seen “a number of patients showing up with full-blown AIDS and no antiretroviral options left due to long-term treatment with failing regimens by ignorant or inexperienced physicians.”
Can Herbal Medicine Cure Hiv
No. Some people choose to take alternative forms of medicine, such as herbal medicines, as a natural way of treating HIV. However, herbal remedies do not work.
Taking herbal medicines can be dangerous as they will not protect your immune system from infection. They may also interact poorly with antiretrovirals if you are taking them alongside treatment. The only way you can stay healthy when living with HIV is to take antiretroviral treatment as prescribed by your doctor or healthcare professional, and to attend viral load monitoring appointments to make sure your treatment is working.
Read Also: How Do You Know If You Hiv
What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv
Many people do not notice symptoms when they first acquire HIV. It can take as little as a few weeks for minor, flu-like symptoms to show up, or more than 10 years for more serious symptoms to appear, or any time in between. Signs of early HIV infection include flu-like symptoms such as headache, muscle aches, swollen glands, sore throat, fevers, chills, and sweating, and can also include a rash or mouth ulcers. Symptoms of later-stage HIV or AIDS include swollen glands, lack of energy, loss of appetite, weight loss, chronic or recurrent diarrhea, repeated yeast infections, short-term memory loss, and blotchy lesions on the skin, inside the mouth, eyelids, nose, or genital area.
Can You Get Hiv Through Oral Sex
The risk of HIV from oral sex is very small unless you or your partner have large open sores on the genital area or bleeding gums/sores in your mouth.
There is only a slightly increased risk if a woman being given oral sex is HIV-positive and is menstruating. However, you can always use a dental dam to eliminate these risks.
Don’t Miss: Can You Get Hiv Oral Sex
How Hiv Impacts Lgbtq+ People
While HIV affects Americans from all walks of life, the epidemic continues to disproportionately impact certain members of the LGBTQ+ community.
HIV continues to be a major public health crisis both in the United States and around the world. While major scientific advances have made it easier than ever to prevent and treat HIV, there remains no vaccine or cure, and tens of thousands of people continue to contract HIV every year. Insufficient funding for public health programs, ideological opposition to common sense prevention policies, and societal barriers like stigma and discrimination, have made it especially difficult for us to turn the tide against the epidemic. Together, HRC and the HRC Foundation are committed to working with our friends, partners, members, and supporters to end the dual epidemics of HIV and HIV-related stigma.
HIV disproportionately impacts segments of the LGBTQ community.
Transgender people have also been hit especially hard by the epidemic despite comprising a similarly small percentage of the U.S. population. While better data is needed to understand the full impact of HIV on the transgender community, one international analysis found that transgender women in certain communities have 49 times the odds of living with HIV than the general population. Although HIV prevalence among transgender men is relatively low according to the CDC, some data suggest transgender men may still yet be at elevated risk for HIV acquisition.
Not Every Hiv Exposure Leads To An Infection
Although the most effective way to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV is to avoid exposure to fluids that contain the virus, the reality is that not all exposures result in infection. After an exposure, HIV still needs to complete a difficult journey before it can spread throughout the body. In some cases, HIV is not able to complete this journey and infection does not occur. The likelihood of infection depends on many factors.
Read Also: Can You Get Hiv From Getting Fingered
Rate Of New Infections
Per surveillance reports from UNAIDS, it is estimated that there were 38 million people living with HIV globally as of the end of 2019. Of these, approximately 1.7 million were newly infected.
These remain sobering figures, in part because infection rates are not declining at the pace needed to effectively end the epidemic. In fact, between 2010 and 2019, new infections around the world have decreased by about 23%, but a number of “hotspots” around the world experienced an increase.
In Russia and parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the rate of new infections are reported to be increasing due in part to the lack of access to HIV-specific care and treatment.
Meanwhile, in countries like South Africa, which accounts for 7.5 million of the world’s HIV cases, an estimated 200,000 new infections occurred in 2019 despite impressive declines in the previous decade.
Even in the United States, the annual incidence of infections remained stagnant for many years until the widespread use of pre-exposure prophylaxis and other preventive measures gradually reduced the rate from 50,000 in the early part of the century to just under 40,000 today.