How Do People Get Hiv
HIV spreads when infected blood or body fluids enter the body. This can happen:
- during sex
- through sharing needles for injecting drugs or tattooing
HIV also can pass from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
HIV is NOT spread through:
- pee, poop, spit, throw-up, or sweat
- coughing or sneezing
- sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses
What Are Some Behaviors That Can Raise A Woman’s Risk For Hiv
Behaviors that raise a womans risk for HIV include:
- Having sex with a male partner who has had sex with another man or who has used intravenous drugs. Sex with a man is the most common way women are infected with HIV.
- Using injection drugs and sharing needles. This is the second most common way that HIV is spread.
- Abusing drugs and alcohol. This can lead to risky behavior, including having sex without a condom, not knowing a partners HIV status, or injecting drugs.
Women who drink alcohol or use drugs may also be at higher risk of sexual assault or rape, which may put you at risk for HIV. If you are assaulted or raped, you need to see a doctor right away. Your doctor may decide that you should get post-exposure prophylaxis . These drugs may lower your chances of getting HIV after you have been exposed to the virus. But these drugs work only if you see a doctor within three days of exposure.
Tattooing Body Piercings Acupuncture And Other Procedures
If you’re getting a tattoo, body piercing, electrolysis or acupuncture, you can avoid contracting or transmitting HIV by asking if:
- procedures are carried out by professionals who follow proper infection control practices , like those used in hospitals
- all needles used, as required by law, are:
- used only once
- disposed of safely after use
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Opportunities To Improve Hiv Prevention And Treatment:
- Make HIV testing a routine part of healthcare.
- Initiate HAART therapy early to decrease HIV viral load and reduce infectivity.
- Establish a continuum of care to improve linkage to substance abuse and HIV treatment within the criminal justice system and upon prisoner reentry.
- Improve rates of testing and treatment among African- Americans, MSM, and other groups disproportionately impacted by the epidemic.
NIDA is also investing in research to identify the most effective strategies to treat HIV among drug users. The mistaken belief that IDUs are unlikely to benefit from HAART because of their chaotic lifestyles has resulted in delays in delivering HIV treatments to drug abusing populations, or even withholding of those treatments dramatically compromising the quality of life for these individuals and their partners . This further burdens the healthcare community, leaving unchecked illness within this population.35 These misperceptions have been refuted by a recent study showing no difference in survival between IDUs and non-IDUs receiving HAART.36
How To Use Condoms If You Have A Vagina
Condoms are also available for people with a vagina. These products are often called internal condoms or female condoms.
Studies have suggested that internal condoms have a similar effectiveness to external condoms. However, so far, no studies directly compare the effectiveness of external and internal condoms.
Lets examine how to use internal condoms.
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What Tests Diagnose Hiv
There are three types of HIV tests: antigen/antibody tests, antibody tests and nucleic acid tests :
Antigen tests look for markers on the surface of HIV called p24. Antibody tests look for chemicals your body makes when it reacts to those markers. HIV antigen/antibody tests look for both.
A healthcare provider will take a small sample of blood from your arm with a needle. The blood is sent to a lab and tested for p24 and antibodies to it. An antigen/antibody test is usually able to detect HIV in 18 to 45 days after exposure.
A rapid antigen/antibody test may also be done with a finger prick to draw blood. Youll need to wait at least 18 days after exposure for this type of test to be able to detect HIV. You may need to take the test up to 90 days after exposure for accurate results.
These tests look for antibodies to HIV in your blood or saliva. This can be done with a blood draw from your arm, a finger prick or with a stick that you rub on your gums to collect saliva.
An antibody test can take 23 to 90 days after exposure to detect HIV. Antibody tests done with a blood draw can detect HIV sooner than those done with saliva or blood from a finger prick.
Nucleic acid tests
NATs look for the HIV virus in your blood. A healthcare provider will take a small sample of blood from your arm with a needle. The blood then is sent to a lab and tested for HIV.
- Viral hepatitis screening.
What Can I Expect If I Have Hiv
If youre diagnosed with HIV, its important to know that those living with HIV who follow treatment guidelines can live full lives for nearly as long as those without HIV.
If you have a high CD4 count and an undetectable viral load within a year of starting treatment, research suggests youll have the best outcomes, as long as you continue your treatment plan.
You can improve your outlook by:
- Getting tested as part of routine healthcare or if you think youve been exposed.
- Starting ART soon after being diagnosed.
- Taking your medicine every day.
- Keeping your appointments with your healthcare team.
ART can keep blood levels undetectable but cant entirely rid your body of the virus . If you dont take your medication every day, the virus can start multiplying again and mutate, which may cause your medications to stop working.
Left untreated, it can take about 10 years for HIV to advance to AIDS. If you progress to AIDS and it goes untreated, you can expect to live about three years more.
For those on treatment, if you have a high CD4 count and undetectable viral load within a year of starting treatment, you can expect to live about as long as someone without HIV. If you have a low CD4 count or a detectable viral load within a year of starting treatment, you may live 10 to 20 years less than someone without HIV.
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The Progression Of Hiv To Aids
HIV has three separate stages:
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Once HIV has progressed to stage 3, the persons ability to fight off infections and diseases is severely compromised, putting them at a very high risk. This most often develops 10 years after a person has experienced HIV transmission.
Some of the signs and symptoms of Stage 3 HIV include:
White spots or unusual cuts in the mouth or tongue
Untreated HIV can also lead to further complications, such as neurological issues including dementia, depression, and anxiety, as well as kidney disease.
How Quickly Does Prep Work
For oral PrEP to be the most effective, you must commit to taking the medicine every day and following up with your doctor on a regular schedule for HIV tests , prescription refills, and other medical tests and counseling, as needed.
Studies have shown that PrEP pills reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by over 99% when taken daily as directed. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP pills reduce the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken daily.
- The CDC states that oral PrEP reaches a maximum protection from HIV for receptive anal sex at about 7 days of daily use.
- For receptive vaginal sex and injection drug use, oral PrEP reaches maximum protection at about 21 days of daily use.
- No data are yet available about how effective PrEP is for insertive anal sex, insertive vaginal sex, or how long it takes for the PrEP injection Apretude to work.
PrEP should be used with counseling on other risk reduction methods, such as correct condom use and safe needle practices for the best effect.
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I Have Hiv Can I Breastfeed My Baby
No. If you have HIV, do not breastfeed. In the United states and other countries where clean water is available, using a breastmilk substitute like formula is strongly recommended for women with HIV, because you can pass the virus to your baby through breastmilk.
You can also ask your doctor, midwife, or pediatrician about getting human breastmilk from a milk bank. Find a human milk bank through the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.
Recommendations about breastfeeding with HIV may be different for other countries where clean water is not always available.
Can Hiv/aids Be Prevented
You can reduce the risk of spreading HIV by:
- Getting tested for HIV
- Choosing less risky sexual behaviors. This includes limiting the number of sexual partners you have and using latex condoms every time you have sex. If your or your partner is allergic to latex, you can use polyurethane condoms.
- Getting tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases
- Not injecting drugs
- Talking to your health care provider about medicines to prevent HIV:
- PrEP is for people who don’t already have HIV but are at very high risk of getting it. PrEP is daily medicine that can reduce this risk.
- PEP is for people who have possibly been exposed to HIV. It is only for emergency situations. PEP must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.
NIH: National Institutes of Health
Do Birth Control Methods Other Than Condoms Reduce The Risk Of Stds Including Hiv
No. Only condoms reduce the risk of pregnancy, STDs and HIV. Birth control pills, the birth control patch, contraceptive injections such as Depo-Provera, intrauterine devices , diaphragms, and any birth control methods other than condoms do not provide protection against STDs and HIV. You should use a latex male condom or a female condom for STD and HIV prevention along with any other method you use to prevent pregnancy. Condoms can prevent the spread of other STDs, like HPV or genital herpes, only when the condom covers all of the infected area or sores.
How Can I Take Care Of Myself While Living With Hiv
It’s very important to take your medications as prescribed and to make sure you dont miss appointments. This is called treatment adherence.
If you miss medications, even by accident, HIV can change how it infects your cells , potentially causing your medications to stop working. If your schedule prevents you from taking medications on time or making it to appointments, talk to your healthcare provider.
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Is There A Safe Way To Share Needles
Needle SafetyThe only way to completely avoid potential transmission of blood-borne illnesses when injecting drugs is by not sharing needles. If people do share needles, cleaning the needles and works properly with bleach and water before and after each person uses them will help reduce the risk.
How Do I Clean My Used Needles?
The most effective way to sterilize used syringes is the 3x3x3 method:
If bleach isnt available, you can use soap and clean water, or even just water to clean your works. ANY steps you take to clean syringes before use will reduce your risk of HIV and hepatitis C transmission.
Where can I get clean needles/syringes?Prior to September 2006 the only way to acquire clean needles in Massachusetts was via a prescription or through a needle exchange programs. As a result of the Pharmacy Access Bill, it is now legal for pharmacies to sell medical syringes over the counter without a prescription. Anyone 18 or older can purchase clean needles at many pharmacies in Massachusetts. They are relatively inexpensive. Although pharmacies are allowed to sell syringes, they are not required to do so. A phone call to the pharmacy in advance can save a trip to the drug store.
How To Get Prep For Free
In December 2019 the U.S Department of Health and Human Services launched “Ready, Set, PrEP“, a national program to help people without prescription health insurance get PrEP treatment at no cost. You can find out if you qualify by visiting GetYourPrEP.com or by calling toll-free at 855-447-8410.
Most insurance will cover PrEP but a Prior Authorization form may need to be completed by your doctor. You may still be a responsible for a copay, which can vary from one insurance company to another based upon their formulary and copay tier of the medication. Contact your local pharmacist with your prescription to determine your copay and if prior authorization is required.
Gilead, the manufacturer of Truvada and Descovy also offers a program to help offset copay costs for PrEP, which may bring your cost to zero. If your insurance is with Medicare, Medicaid, or other government programs this copay card is not valid. In addition, Gilead may also cover the full cost of your PrEP medication if you do not have prescription insurance coverage. You can contact them at 1-800-226-2056. Lab work or doctor’s office visits may result in copays, too.
In May 2019, Gilead also announced they would donate 2.4 million bottles of Truvada and Descovy each year to the CDC to help support efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. These donations are intended for uninsured Americans at risk for HIV. The donation extends up to the year 2030.
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How Does Hiv Spread
You can get HIV through the blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk and rectal fluids of an infected person. People of all sexes and sexual orientations can get infected with and spread HIV.
The virus can enter your body through your mouth, anus, penis, vagina or broken skin. It cant get through your skin unless you have a cut or wound. Pregnant people with HIV can also give it to their babies.
Having sex without a condom and sharing needles to take drugs are the most common ways that HIV spreads. Even if you feel fine, you can still give HIV to others.
How Can A Person Reduce The Risk Of Getting Hiv
Anyone can get HIV, but you can take steps to protect yourself from HIV.
- Get tested for HIV. Talk to your partner about HIV testing and get tested before you have sex. Use the GetTested locator from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find an HIV testing location near you.
- Choose less risky sexual behaviors. HIV is mainly spread by having anal or vaginal sex without a condom or without taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV.
- Use condoms every time you have sex. Read this fact sheet from CDC on how to use condoms correctly.
- Limit your number of sexual partners. The more partners you have, the more likely you are to have a partner with poorly controlled HIV or to have a partner with a sexually transmitted disease . Both of these factors can increase the risk of HIV.
- Get tested and treated for STDs. Insist that your partners get tested and treated, too. Having an STD can increase your risk of getting HIV or spreading it to others.
- Talk to your health care provider about pre-exposure prophylaxis . PrEP is an HIV prevention option for people who do not have HIV but who are at risk of getting HIV. PrEP involves taking a specific HIV medicine every day to reduce the risk of getting HIV through sex or injection drug use. For more information, read the HIVinfo fact sheet on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis .
- Do not inject drugs. But if you do, use only sterile drug injection equipment and water, and never share your equipment with others.
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What Is Pep And How Does It Prevent Hiv
PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. Its a series of pills you start taking after youve been exposed to HIV that lowers your chances of getting HIV. You have to start PEP within 72 hours , after you were exposed to HIV for it to work. The sooner you start it, the better. Every hour counts, so if you think you were exposed to HIV, call your nurse or doctor or go to the emergency room right away. PEP is only for emergencies it doesnt take the place of using condoms or PrEP. Read more about PEP.
How Is Hiv Recognized
Doctors use laboratory tests to confirm HIV infection. The Elisa and Western Blot analyses identify people who have been exposed to HIV. These tests determine if the blood contains particular antibodies that result from contact with the virus. They do not identify who among a group of infected individuals will develop the disease. The presence of antibodies or HIV markers means the person has been infected with HIV but no one can predict when and if they will get AIDS related symptoms.
Doctors diagnose AIDS by blood tests and the presence of specific illnesses such as pneumocystis carinii pneumonia or Kaposi’s sarcoma. These diseases overcome the weakened immune system and are responsible for the high death rate among AIDS patients.
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What Is Life Expectancy With Hiv
You can now live a near normal lifespan with HIV due to advanced medical treatments. In fact, over one million people are living with HIV in the United States. Taking a combination of medications to treat HIV, called antiretroviral therapy , is recommended for all people with HIV. If you have been diagnosed with HIV, you should start medical treatment as soon as possible to maintain a low viral load.
Life expectancy of HIV without treatment, meaning people who do not receive ART and progress to AIDS, typically survive about three years. Without medical treatment, serious and life-threatening opportunistic infections can occur. Once you have an opportunistic illness, life-expectancy without HIV treatment falls to about one year.
Examples of opportunistic infections and other complications common in AIDS patients are:
- Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia
- Fungal infections of the respiratory tract