Frequently Asked Questions About Hiv/aids
HIV can be detected in several fluids and tissue of a person living with HIV. It is important to understand however, that finding a small amount of HIV in a body fluid or tissue does not mean that HIV is transmitted by that body fluid or tissue. Only specific fluids from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV. These specific fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the blood-stream for transmission to possibly occur.
In the United States, HIV is most commonly transmitted through specific sexual behaviors or sharing needles with an infected person. It is less common for HIV to be transmitted through oral sex or for an HIV-infected woman to pass the virus to her baby before or during childbirth or after birth through breastfeeding or by prechewing food for her infant. In the United States, it is also possible to acquire HIV through exposure to infected blood, transfusions of infected blood, blood products, or organ transplantation, though this risk is extremely remote due to rigorous testing of the U.S. blood supply and donated organs.
For more information, see:;How safe is the blood supply in the United States?
For more information on latex condoms, see “Male Latex Condoms and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.”
In women, the lining of the vagina can sometimes tear and possibly allow HIV to enter the body. HIV can also be directly absorbed through the mucous membranes that line the vagina and cervix.
How Long Does It Take To Develop The Disease
There is no fixed period between the first contact with HIV and the development of the disease. Signs and symptoms resulting from infection with HIV develop in stages. Many infected individuals may have no symptoms for several years. But others may develop symptoms within three years from the time of infection.
Symptoms of HIV infection are fever, swollen lymph glands in the neck and armpits, sweating, aches, fatigue, unexplained weight loss and diarrhea.
Within eight years, about 50 percent of all infected people develop specific conditions categorized as AIDS. These conditions include a lung disease called “pneumocystis carinii pneumonia,” skin tumours called “Kaposi’s sarcoma,” fungal and viral infections such as candidiasis and herpes zoster, and severe diarrhea.
Some AIDS patients also suffer from dementia resulting in problems with memory and thinking. AIDS patients are prone to various infections of the brain, just as they suffer from an unusually high number of cancers, bacterial and viral infections of other parts of the body.
Ways Hiv Can Be Transmitted
How is HIV passed from one person to another?
;Most people who get HIV get it through anal or vaginal sex, or sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment . But there are powerful tools that can help prevent HIV;transmission.
Can I get HIV from anal sex?
You can get HIV if you have anal sex;with someone who has HIV without using protection .
- Anal sex is the riskiest type of sex for getting or transmitting HIV.
- Being the receptive partner is riskier for getting HIV than being the insertive partner .
- The bottoms risk of getting HIV is very high because the rectums lining is thin and may allow HIV to enter the body during anal sex.
- The top is also at risk because HIV can enter the body through the opening at the tip of the penis , the foreskin if; the penis isnt circumcised, or small cuts, scratches, or open sores anywhere on the penis.
Can I get HIV from vaginal sex?
You can get HIV if you have vaginal sex;with someone who has HIV without using protection .
Can HIV be transmitted from a mother to her baby?
HIV can be transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. However, it is less common because of advances in HIV prevention and treatment.
Can I get HIV from sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment?
You are at high risk for getting HIV if you ; with someone who has HIV. Never share needles or other equipment to inject drugs, hormones, steroids, or silicone.
Also Check: What Is The Hiv Rate In Atlanta
How To Avoid Getting Hiv
Abstinence, or not having sex, is the only type of protection that works every time. But if you are having sex, you can lower your risk if you:
- Use a condom every time you have sex
- Get tested for HIV and STDs
- Limit the number of people you have sex with
- Donât inject yourself with drugs
Talk to your doctor right away if you think youâve been exposed to the virus. They can help you figure out next steps.
How Can I Protect Myself
The best way to protect yourself from HIV is to not have sex and not share needles.
If you decide to have sex, reduce your risk of getting HIV by:
- using a condom every time you have sex
- getting tested for HIV and making sure all partners do too
- reducing the number of sexual partners you have;
- getting tested and treated for STDs ; having an STD increases the risk of HIV infection
Understanding how HIV spreads can help you make safer choices about sex. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about HIV and if you want to get tested.
Also Check: How Do Anti Hiv Drugs Work
How Hiv Is Transmitted
HIV is not passed on easily from one person to another. The virus does not spread through the air like cold and flu viruses.
HIV lives in the blood and in some body fluids. To get HIV, 1 of these fluids from someone with HIV has to get into your blood.
The body fluids that contain enough HIV to infect someone are:
- vaginal fluids, including menstrual blood
- breast milk
- contact with animals or insects;like mosquitoes
Hiv Effects On The Digestive System
More than half of people who have AIDS report digestive symptoms as the virus or an opportunistic infection targets the walls of their intestines. Diarrhea is the most common one. Over time, the virus can change how your digestive tract works and even how it looks.
Some HIV medications can damage your liver. Many people with HIV also have a form of inflammation called hepatitis.
Limit how much alcohol you drink, and don’t use recreational drugs. Having diabetes, high cholesterol, or triglycerides and being overweight can lead to fatty liver disease, so keep an eye on the carbs, fats, and calories you eat each day.
Talk to your doctor about getting the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines. Thereâs no vaccine against hepatitis C, but you should get tested for it.
Get regular blood tests to catch any liver problems early.
Your mouth might be one of the first places where you notice signs of HIV. Things like dry mouth, fungal infections, gum disease, cold sores, and canker sores can make chewing or swallowing painful. If they go on too long, you might not be able to take your HIV medication or get the nutrients you need.
Good dental habits can help prevent these issues, so brush and floss regularly. See your dentist for checkups, and tell them if youâre having problems. Most mouth conditions tied to HIV are treatable.
Read Also: How I Found Out I Had Hiv
Hiv Rashes Due To Adverse Medicine Reaction
Some antiretroviral medicines are known to cause side effects of skin rashes in some cases. These medicines are used to treat HIV infection and its symptoms. Amprenavir, abacavir and nevirapine are few examples of the drugs that can cause HIV skin rashes. Stopping of these drugs may help fade the rashes.
Stage : Acute Primary Infection
The early symptoms of HIV can feel like having the flu. Around one to four weeks after getting HIV, you may start to experience these flu-like symptoms. These normally dont last long . You may only get some of the symptoms and some people dont have any symptoms at all.
Symptoms can include:
- joint aches and pains
- muscle pain.
These symptoms happen because your body is reacting to the HIV virus. Cells that are infected with HIV are circulating throughout your blood system. In response, your immune system tries to attack the virus by producing HIV antibodies this process is called seroconversion. Timing varies but once you have HIV it can take your body up to a few months to go through the seroconversion process.
Having these symptoms alone does not mean you definitely have HIV. The only way to know if you have HIV is by taking a test. You should always visit your healthcare professional if youre worried about or think youve been at risk of getting HIV, even if you feel well and dont have any symptoms. They can then arrange for you to get tested.
HIV will not always show up in a test at this early stage, and you may need to test again later to confirm your result . Your healthcare professional will talk to you about the timing of your test and answer any concerns. Its important not delay speaking to a healthcare worker if you are worried about HIV.
Hiv Testing And Your Rights
Testing for HIV is voluntary and can only be done with your informed consent, except in exceptional circumstances.
Before you are tested, you will be provided with information about what is involved. what the results might mean for you, and how to prevent HIV transmission in the future. All people who request an HIV test must receive this information from the test provider.
Under Australian and Victorian law, it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone who has HIV. Test results, and details on whether someone has been tested are strictly confidential. It is illegal for any information about a person being tested or a person with HIV to be disclosed without their permission.;
Viral Load At Different Stages
During the first few weeks after someone gets HIV, viral load is usually very high typically several million viral copies per millilitre of blood . There is a considerable risk of passing on HIV at this point. In fact, many people acquire HIV from someone who has only recently acquired it themselves .
After this period of early infection, viral load usually drops. A typical viral load in someone not taking treatment may be 50,000 copies/ml. There is still a considerable risk of passing HIV on.
After starting HIV treatment, viral load usually falls rapidly. Within three to six months, most peoples viral load has become undetectable.
Most clinics in the UK report a viral load as undetectable if it is below 20-50 copies/ml. However, if your viral load remains below 200 copies/ml , there is no risk of passing HIV to your sexual partners. There is no need to worry if your viral load goes slightly above the detection limit of 20-50 copies/ml.
When viral load is detectable, this indicates that HIV is replicating in the body. If the person is taking HIV treatment but their viral load is detectable, the treatment is not working properly. There may still be a risk of HIV transmission to sexual partners.
How Long Does Hiv Live Outside The Body In Blood
HIV in blood from something like a cut or nosebleed can be active for several days, even in dried blood. The amount of virus is small, though, and unable to easily transmit infection.
HIV survival time in fluid outside of the body can increase when a small amount is left in a syringe. After an injection in someone with high levels of HIV, enough blood stays in the syringe to transmit the virus. Since its inside a syringe, the blood isnt as exposed to air as it is on other surfaces.
According to the , when the temperature and other conditions are just right, HIV can live as long as 42 days in a syringe, but this typically involves refrigeration.
HIV lives the longest in a syringe at room temperature, but can still live up to
Hiv Transmission In Australia
In Australia, HIV is commonly transmitted through:
- Unprotected anal or vaginal sex .;
- Sharing any needles, syringes, or other injecting equipment.;
- From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding This can occur when the mother doesnt know she is HIV-positive, or is not on effective treatment.
- Tattooing or other procedures that involve unsterile or reused equipment.
- Needle stick injuries.
HIV is not transmitted by:
- kissing, hugging, massaging, mutual masturbation and other body contact
- social interaction
- sharing food, dishes, utensils, drinking glasses
- air, breath, or being coughed or sneezed on
- mosquito, insect or animal bites
- use of communal facilities .
It is perfectly safe to consume food and drinks prepared by someone who is HIV-positive even if theyre not receiving treatment.
People with HIV who are on treatment and achieve and maintain an undetectable HIV viral load cannot transmit HIV sexually.;
How Long Does It Take For Hiv To Progress To Aids
How long does it take for HIV to progress to AIDS? In all but a few rare cases, if left untreated, HIV will progress to a stage of infection called AIDS. This is when the immune defenses have been compromised, and the body is less able to defend itself against potentially life-threatening infections.
What Are The Tests For Detecting Hiv
Various tests may be used for HIV detection:
- HIV antibody test: This test detects the antibodies produced in the body in response to HIV.
- Antigen test: This test can be done at an earlier stage than an HIV antibody test. It measures a protein called p24 antigen, present in the virus and produced in high amounts after the infection.
- Nucleic acid test : It is also called an RNA test. It is a very specific test that looks for the virus itself and can detect HIV as early as about 10 days of infections.
- In-home test kits: Although less accurate than the laboratory-based tests, home-based kits have the advantage of testing in the privacy and comfort of the home. Only FDA approved home-based kits should be used.
- Viral culture: This involves using the patients sample and growing the virus in the lab. It takes longer to get the results and is not the most preferred test for HIV.
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
Can Hiv Pass From Mothers To Their Babies
Infection can pass from pregnant women living with HIV to their babies in the womb and during birth. Taking HIV medications during pregnancy and childbirth dramatically lowers the risk of a baby becoming infected with HIV.
After birth, transmission can occur through breast milk. The highest risk may be in the early months after birth. It is recommended that new mothers who are living with HIV formula-feed their babies rather than breast-feed.
If you are a woman living with HIV and you intend to become pregnant, or you find out that you have during your pregnancy, talk to your provider immediately about ways to minimize the chances that your baby will become infected, too.
Hiv Effects On The Circulatory System
Several things make your chances of heart-related problems go up. Because HIV affects your immune system, your body will be inflamed as it tries to fight the infection, like itâs on a constant simmer. This kind of inflammation has been linked to heart disease.
Some drugs you take for HIV can also make heart disease more likely. They can cause insulin resistance, which makes you more likely to get diabetes, and problems breaking down fats. Diabetes, in turn, raises your risk of heart disease. You might need medicines to control your blood sugar and cholesterol.
If you smoke, quit. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, plenty of whole grains, and foods with omega-3 fatty acids. Choose lean cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products. Exercise, like taking a brisk walk, for 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week.
If you’re carrying extra weight, losing as little as 5 or 10 pounds could make a big difference.
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.
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.