How Do I Know If The Blood Transfusion/transplant Im Receiving Is Safe
In most cases, its fine to assume the blood product you are receiving is safe. But if you are worried, it is your right to ask the healthcare professional whether it has been tested for HIV or not.
Blood donors are asked a set of standard questions just before donating blood to help determine if they are in good health or if they have been at risk of HIV infection in the past.
Some groups of people who are considered more statistically at risk of HIV infection are not eligible to donate blood products in some countries – either for set time periods or for life. These groups include:
- Men who have sex with men
- Sex workers
- People who inject drugs
If you fall into one of these groups of people, and you want to donate blood, talk to your healthcare professional who can advise you on whether its safe and legal to donate blood or not.
Other activities may also require you to postpone your blood donation, such as having a tattoo or body piercing or if you are living with a certain health condition.
If you want to know more about donor eligibility, check the guidelines in your country as they are different all over the world.
What Is Hiv And Aids
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that infects the immune system. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome . AIDS is the most advanced stage of the HIV infection and causes the immune system to become vulnerable to other infections. HIV can also be known as “the AIDS virus.”
The full name for AIDS describes several of the characteristics of the disease.
Acquired indicates that it is not an inherited condition.
Immune Deficiency indicates that the body’s immune system breaks down.
Syndrome indicates that the disease results in a variety of health problems.
It takes on average, 5-10 years for the initial HIV infection to progress to AIDS if not treated. While there is presently no cure or vaccine for HIV, with proper medical care, HIV can be managed and a near-normal lifespan can be expected with early treatment.
Can Hiv Affect The Menstrual Cycle
Many women experience irregularities in their menstrual cycles at various times. These include irregular periods, changes in menstrual flow and worsening of premenstrual symptoms, and may sometimes indicate an underlying health problem. Most menstrual changes reported by women living with HIV dont appear to have a direct link with the virus.
However, there is evidence to suggest that women living with HIV are more likely to experience missed periods . A wide-reaching analysis of international research conducted in the 1990s and early 2000s in almost 9000 women found that women living with HIV were 70% more likely to experience amenorrhea of more than three months.
A clinical study of 828 women from 1994-2002 also found that women living with HIV were more likely to have had unexplained amenorrhea for over a year compared with women not living with HIV. For over a third of women living with HIV, this amenorrhea was reversible.
The exact reasons for this continue to be debated. It remains unclear if amenorrhea is a complication of HIV infection itself or due to other risk factors that were more common among women with HIV at the time the data were collected, such as low body weight, immune suppression, or a combination of factors. Further research among women on more modern antiretrovirals may help to answer these questions.
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Sex Toys Fingering Fisting And Hiv
Sex toys, such as dildos, come into direct contact with rectal/vaginal fluids and mucous membranes. This means sharing an uncleaned dildo or other toy can pass on HIV. Using sex toys on your own has no risk.
There is no direct risk of HIV from fingering or fisting , but be aware of being rough. Damage to anal/vaginal tissues, especially if there is any bleeding, will increase risk of HIV transmission if you then have anal, vaginal or oral sex later.
Viral Load & Medications
If someone has HIV, this does not mean that they are restricted to celibacy. Many people with HIV still continue to have safe, enjoyable sex lives without spreading the virus. Always using a condom or barrier method is an important first step to prevent the sharing of HIV containing fluids.
Antiretroviral therapy : Another way to help decrease the risk of spreading HIV is to lower a personâs viral loadâthe amount of HIV in a personâs blood. Viral loads can be lowered using medications called antiretroviral therapy . These medications can lower the HIV viral load so much that HIV may not even be detectable on a blood testâthis is called an undetectable viral load . When a person’s viral load in undetectable, they have effectively no risk of transmitting the HIV virus to a non-infected partner . Taking these medication will help keep a person with HIV healthy while also helping prevent the spread of HIV to another person. This is not a cure, however. If medication is taken incorrectly or stopped, HIV viral loads will increase again and transmission can occur. Condoms and other barrier methods should still always be used during sex .
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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.
Blood Transfusions & Transplants And Hiv
- In most places in the world the risk of getting HIV from a blood transfusion is very low.
- International health guidelines state that all blood products must be tested for viruses such as HIV, and in most countries rigorous testing procedures are put in place.
- In rare cases where blood or blood products, such as a donated organ or tissue, have not been tested, HIV may be transmitted if the donation has come from an HIV-positive individual.
- You have the right to ask your healthcare professional if a blood product has been tested for HIV or not.
- You cannot get HIV from donating blood as new, sterile and disposable needles are used.
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How Can Hiv Be Transmitted
Before we get into how you can get HIV, remember that an HIV infection is not something you can always spot in another person. Most people with an HIV infection dont necessarily look sick in terms of their outward appearance. Some dont undergo the required tests and may not even be aware that theyre infected. Always err on the side of caution.
Can I Get Hiv From A Piercing Or Tattoo
Getting HIV from a piercing or tattoo is rare. But it is possible to get HIV from tattoo and piercing tools that are not sterilized correctly between clients. Tools that cut the skin should be used once, then thrown away or sterilized between uses.
Before you get a tattoo or have your body pierced, ask the right questions. Find out what steps the staff takes to prevent HIV and other infections, like hepatitis B and hepatitis C. A new, sterilized needle should be used for each person.
Learn more about HIV risk and tattoos and body piercing.
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What About Breastfeeding
chance that they will pass on the virus to their infant during labor, delivery, or breastfeeding. This is due to contact with relevant body fluids.
Antiretroviral therapy can reduce the chances of transmission to below 5%. The recommend that people with HIV combine exclusive breastfeeding with the use of antiretroviral therapy.
How Does Hiv Spread
HIV spreads when infected blood, semen or vaginal fluids enter the body. Because symptoms can be mild at first, people with HIV might not know they’re infected. They can spread HIV to others without knowing it.
HIV can spread:
- during sex
- through sharing needles for injecting drugs or tattooing
HIV also can pass from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
HIV does not spread through:
- pee, poop, spit, throw-up, or sweat
- coughing or sneezing
- sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses
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How Do You Get Or Transmit Hiv
You can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. These fluids are:
- Semen and pre-seminal fluid
- Rectal fluids
- Vaginal fluids
- Breast milk
For transmission to occur, the HIV in these fluids must get into the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person through a mucous membrane open cuts or sores or by direct injection.
People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
Are Women At Greater Risk Of Hiv During Menstruation
The menstrual bleeding during a period itself does not increase the risk of acquiring HIV. However, hormonal changes during menstrual cycles are believed to place women at greater risk than at other times. The biology of the vagina and cervix mean that women, especially adolescents and older women, are in general more vulnerable to HIV and sexually transmitted infections than men.
A 2015 study in monkeys concluded that immune protection is at its lowest mid-cycle, providing a window of opportunity for infections to enter. In addition, researchers following a group of 37 HIV-negative female sex workers in Nairobi, Kenya found an association between the first stage of the menstrual cycle and factors that could mean increased susceptibility to HIV infection. The authors concluded that a better understanding of the natural hormonal cycle on the vaginal immune environment is required to identify exactly how it influences HIV sexual transmission in women.
Since more research is needed to establish clarity on when women are most at risk, women should always consider using barrier methods such as male and female condoms to provide the best protection from STIs including HIV, regardless of the stage of their menstrual cycle.
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Can I Get Hiv From Sharing Needles
Yes. Sharing needles or syringes and other injection drug equipment is very risky. Sharing needles is the second most common way that HIV is spread to women in the United States . Any woman who shares needles with someone is at risk for HIV infection, because the needles may have someone else’s blood in them.
Learn more about HIV risk and sharing needles.
About The Infected Person :
- Is the source HIV negative or positive? They could be infected but not know yet. One in seven people living with HIV are unaware.
- Has the source had possible exposure to HIV through sex with multiple and/or anonymous partners, condomless sex, anal sex where both partners have a penis, or use of recreational drugs, injection drugs, or methamphetamines?
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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.
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.
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Hiv Prevention For Expectant Mothers And Newborns
Newborn babies are always at risk of being infected with HIV if their mothers are infected first. The infection can happen when the mother is pregnant, during birth, or through breastfeeding. It is absolutely imperative that pregnant women be tested for HIV. With proper treatment for HIV at the right time, the chances of the virus spreading from the mother to the baby reduces. Even if an infected woman does give birth, special medication can be given to the newborn to try and prevent the HIV infection.11
There is currently no known vaccine for HIV and no cure for AIDS. Being educated and aware about HIV transmission can help you take the right steps to easily prevent it.
Is Hiv Transmitted Through Feces
Ask the Experts
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How Could You Get Hiv From Contact With Blood
The risk of HIV transmission through blood comes when the person has a detectable viral load and their blood enters another persons body or comes into contact with a mucous membrane. These are parts of the body with wet, absorbent skin such as the:
- inside of the anus
Theres also a risk if blood from a person who has a detectable viral load comes into contact with a cut or broken skin, giving HIV a way through the skin and into someones bloodstream. If blood gets onto skin that isnt broken, there is no risk.
In a medical setting, its possible for HIV to be transmitted by someone accidentally cutting themselves with a blade or needle they have used to treat a person living with HIV.
This is called a needlestick injury. The risk of being infected in this way is very low. However, if someone thinks they have been exposed to HIV through a needlestick injury, post-exposure prophylaxis may be an option.
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
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When Is The Risk Greater
These risk factors can increase the chances for transmission of HIV:
- Status: Risk varies based on whether the person with HIV is giving or receiving oral sex. If the person with HIV is receiving oral sex, the person giving it may have a higher risk. Mouths may have more openings in the skin or lesions. Saliva, on the other hand, is not a carrier of the virus.
- Viral load: The risk of contracting HIV is higher if the person with HIV has a high viral load. Higher viral loads increase infectivity.
- Ejaculation: During oral sex, ejaculation may increase risk for sharing the virus, but ejaculation alone isnt the only possible way of contracting HIV.
- Cuts or sores: Openings in the mouth, vagina, anus, or on the penis are possible routes for HIV. These may be cuts or lesions from another infection or condition. For example, HIV-related infections like candidiasis can cause sores that compromise the integrity of the tissue in the mouth. Any break in the skin puts a person at risk for transmitting or contracting the virus.
- Menstruation: HIV-bearing cells do shed from the cervix during menstruation. Coming into contact with menstrual blood with the mouth may increase contraction risk.
- Urethritis: This condition causes inflammation and irritation in the urethra. It may increase the chances of HIV contraction, too. People with HIV are likely to shed the virus when they have this condition.
Other Types Of Transmission
In the past, HIV was spread by transfusion with blood products, such as whole blood or the “factor” used by hemophiliacs. Many people acquired HIV this way. The blood supply is now much more strictly tested and controlled in most countries. The odds of acquiring HIV from receiving blood or blood factor in countries like the US, the UK, and Canada are extremely low. For example, statistics from the US show that a person is more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than they are to acquire HIV from a blood transfusion. However, not every country screens all blood donations for HIV.
It is also possible to get HIV from skin grafts or transplanted organs taken from people living with HIV. Again, the risk is considered very low, as these “bodily products” must be strictly tested in the same way as blood products. Semen donations collected by sperm banks for artificial insemination are also considered “bodily products” and rigorously tested in high-resource countries. Private semen samples that are not processed by sperm banks or similar organizations may not have been tested. It is important for anyone receiving a private donor’s sperm for artificial insemination to have the donor tested for HIV.
If you are getting breast milk from a milk bank, it is important to ask if the bank tests the milk for HIV. Also, if your baby is getting breast milk from a wet nurse, it is important to make sure that she tests negative for HIV before giving her milk to your baby.
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