What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv/aids
Some people may develop a flu-like illness within a month after exposure to the HIV virus. But many people do not develop any symptoms at all when they first become infected. In addition, the symptoms that do appear, which usually disappear within a week to a month, are often mistaken for those of another viral infection. These may include:
Enlarged lymph nodes
Persistent or severe symptoms may not surface for 10 years or more after HIV first enters the body in adults, or within 2 years in children born with an HIV infection. This “asymptomatic” period of the infection is highly variable from person to person. But, during the asymptomatic period, HIV is actively infecting and killing cells of the immune system. Its most obvious effect is a decline in the blood levels of CD4+ T cells a key immune system infection fighter. The virus initially disables or destroys these cells without causing symptoms.
As the immune system deteriorates, complications begin to surface. The following are the most common complications, or symptoms, of AIDS. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Some people develop frequent and severe herpes infections that cause mouth, genital, or anal sores, or a painful nerve disease known as shingles. Children may have delayed development or failure to thrive.
Contaminated Blood Transfusions And Organ/tissue Transplants
- receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV. This risk is extremely small because most countries test blood products for HIV first.
If adequate safety practices are not in place, healthcare workers can also be at risk of HIV from cuts made by a needle or sharp object with infected blood on it. However, the risk of occupational exposure, is very low in most countries.
If you think you have been exposed to HIV, the only way to find out if you have HIV is to have an HIV test.
Body Piercings And Tattoos
While theoretically feasible, the risk of HIV from body piercings and tattoos is low due to the licensing and strict regulation of practitioners within the industry. For its part, the CDC insists that the risk of HIV transmission is low to negligible.
Among unlicensed practitioners who do not adhere to industry sterilization and hygiene practices, the risk is potentially higher, although it is unclear by how much.
You May Like: Can Saliva Transmit Hiv Virus
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.
Blood Transfusions And Transplants
In the early days of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s to early 1990s, there were many people infected with HIV due to tainted blood transfusions. Prior to 1992, there were no screening tools available to ensure that the U.S. blood supply, including clotting factors and plasma, was free of the virus.
That risk has fallen dramatically in recent decades due to advances in detection technologies and the universal screening of blood and tissue donations in the United States and other countries. This not only includes the screening of HIV but other bloodborne infections like hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Today, the risk of HIV from a blood transfusion in the United States is roughly one in 1.5 million. From 2002 to 2008, only one documented case of HIV transmission from a transfusion was reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
The risk outside of the United States can vary dramatically. In Egypt, for instance, one in four HIV infections is the result of a transfusion. By contrast, in South Africa, the country with the highest HIV incidence in the world, the transmission risk is closer to one of every 76,000 transfusions.
You May Like: How Many Ppl Have Hiv
Implications For Hiv Prevention In Women
It is important for service providers who work with women to understand the biology of HIV transmission in females so that they can communicate this information to women while providing appropriate prevention counselling.
There are several key messages that can be given to female clients about the risk of HIV transmission through vaginal sex:
- A healthy female genital tract has protective defences that can fight HIV infection however, it also has biological vulnerabilities that contribute to a greater risk of HIV infection compared to men.
- Inflammation in the female genital tract is associated with an increased risk of HIV infection. Inflammation can be caused by STIs, vaginal conditions, friction during sex, and cleansing practices , among other things.
- STIs and other vaginal conditions may increase risk, even if they are not symptomatic. Women should be tested for STIs regularly and treated if necessary.
- Women with diverse needs and preferences have prevention options available to them for reducing their risk of getting HIV, including methods they can initiate themselves and those that require greater partner involvement.
- Women in a serodiscordant relationship who want to conceive have several options for preventing HIV transmission within the relationship, and should seek expert medical advice to review these options.
When counselling women about their risk for HIV transmission through vaginal sex and their prevention options:
Taking Antiretroviral Treatment To Protect Your Baby
Taking treatment properly can reduce the risk of your baby being born with HIV to less than 1%.
If you knew that you were HIV-positive before you got pregnant, you may be taking treatment already. If you are not, talk to a healthcare professional about starting treatment as soon as possible.
If you found out that you living with HIV during your pregnancy, it is recommended that you start treatment as soon as possible and continue taking it every day for life.
Your baby will also be given treatment for four to six weeks after they are born to help prevent an HIV infection developing.
Recommended Reading: How Much To Get Hiv Test
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.
Is Hiv And Aids An Occupational Concern
Where ever there is the possibility of contact with blood in the workplace, workers should take precautions to prevent contact with the skin, eyes or mucous membranes .
Routine Practices are recommended to prevent the spread of HIV in the workplace. Routine practices are based on the principle that all blood, body fluids, secretions, and excretions except sweat, non-intact skin, and mucous membranes, unless they contain visible blood, may contain transmissible infectious agents. Steps involve using protective clothing such as gloves, gowns or aprons, masks and protective eye wear when dealing with people’s blood and other blood-contaminated body fluids such as semen and vaginal secretions. They also do not apply to saliva except in dentistry where saliva is likely to be contaminated with blood.
Hand washing after contact with blood, blood-contaminated body fluids and soiled items is also recommended to reduce the risk of infection.
The best approach to most diseases is to prevent their occurrence – occupationally-related diseases are no exception. In the case of HIV, prevention is the only cure.
Don’t Miss: Does Hiv Attack Red Blood Cells
How Is Hiv Passed Through Sex
HIV can be passed during sex in a sexual fluid or blood, if present. For transmission to occur, one of these fluids, containing enough HIV, must come in contact with a mucous membrane of an HIV-negative person, such as the opening of the penis, the foreskin, the vagina, the cervix or the rectum. When this happens, the virus must overcome the bodys natural defences before it can establish a permanent infection.
There are many natural defences that can stop HIV transmission from occurring. The mucous membranes are made up of epithelial cells that are tightly joined together, providing a partially protective barrier against HIV and other germs. This epithelial cell layer can be a single layer or it can be multiple layers thick . The more epithelial cell layers there are, the more difficult it is for HIV to cross into the body. HIV can pass through the cell layer on its own, but damage to the mucous membrane can make it easier for HIV to enter the body. Additionally, mucus that covers and moistens the mucous membrane can trap HIV and help prevent it from crossing the epithelial cell layer. Finally, if HIV crosses the epithelial cell layer, the bodyâs immune cells will fight the virus and try to clear it from the body.
Its important to note that when a highly effective HIV prevention strategy is used consistently and correctly, the risk for sexual HIV transmission ranges from zero to very low.
Unlikely Methods Of Transmission
The above methods account for over 99% of all known HIV transmissions. Clearly, the potential exists for HIV to be transmitted by other situations where bodily fluids are exposed. However, HIV transmission is known to be very unlikely to occur in, for example:
- Bites from insects
- Oral sex
- Body rubbing, etc.
It is always important to keep a sense of proportion. To help us do this, you can use some figures to roughly estimate the risks of transmission for each contact. It must be stressed that these are only estimates, and that they are drawn from studies of large numbers of people. Each human being is unique and the ability to transmit or become infected varies enormously from one individual to another.
You May Like: How Do Antiviral Drugs Treat Hiv
Sharing Injection Drug Equipment
Sharing needles for injecting drugs most efficiently transmits HIV. This is because used needles and syringes can still contain blood, which can carry the virus.
An older study found that HIV can survive up to 42 days in syringes, depending on the temperature.
HIV isnt the only virus that can be transmitted by sharing injection drug equipment. The viruses that cause hepatitis B and hepatitis C can be transmitted in this way as well.
There are also some less common ways that HIV can be transmitted. Lets take a look at some of them below.
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: Can Hiv Spread Through Oral
Pregnancy Childbirth & Breastfeeding And Hiv
- A pregnant woman living with HIV can pass on the virus to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth and through breastfeeding.
- If you are a woman living with HIV, taking antiretroviral treatment correctly during pregnancy and breastfeeding can virtually eliminate the risk of passing on the virus to your baby.
- Attending antenatal appointments means you can get tested for HIV and if needed receive treatment and medical advice to help keep you and your baby healthy.
How Is Hiv Transmitted
HIV can be transmitted from an infected person to another through:
- Vaginal secretions
- Breast milk
Blood contains the highest concentration of the virus, followed by semen, followed by vaginal fluids, followed by breast milk.
* Activities That Allow HIV Transmission
- Unprotected sexual contact
- Direct blood contact, including injection drug needles, blood transfusions, accidents in health care settings or certain blood products
- Mother to baby
Sexual intercourse : In the genitals and the rectum, HIV may infect the mucous membranes directly or enter through cuts and sores caused during intercourse . Vaginal and anal intercourse is a high-risk practice.
Oral sex : The mouth is an inhospitable environment for HIV , meaning the risk of HIV transmission through the throat, gums, and oral membranes is lower than through vaginal or anal membranes. There are however, documented cases where HIV was transmitted orally, so we cant say that getting HIV-infected semen, vaginal fluid or blood in the mouth is without risk. However, oral sex is considered a low risk practice.
Sharing injection needles: An injection needle can pass blood directly from one persons bloodstream to another. It is a very efficient way to transmit a blood-borne virus. Sharing needles is considered a high-risk practice.
The following bodily fluids are NOT infectious:
Recommended Reading: What Causes Hiv To Turn Into Aids
Do Condoms Stop Hiv Being Passed On
Yes.Using a condom correctly prevents contact with semen or vaginal secretions , stopping HIV from being passed on. The virus cannot pass through the latex of the condom.
Condoms should only be used with a water-based lubricant as oil-based lube weakens them.
People with HIV who are on effective treatment and have an undetectable viral load cannot pass on HIV through any of their body fluids.
Its also important to remember that if you have sex without a condom other sexually transmitted infections can be passed on.
Sex without a condom can also result in pregnancy if other contraception is not being used.
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.
Don’t Miss: Does Walgreens Do Hiv Testing
How Do I Protect Myself From Hiv
There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from HIV, including:
- using a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex
- in some countries PrEP is available. This is a course of HIV drugs which if taken consistently as advised by your healthcare professional prevents HIV infection through sex
- avoiding sharing needles, syringes and other injecting equipment
- taking HIV treatment if you are a new or expectant mother living with HIV, as this will dramatically reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding
- asking your healthcare professional if the blood product you are receiving has been tested for HIV
- taking precautions if you are a healthcare worker, such as wearing protection , washing hands after contact with blood and other bodily fluids, and safely disposing of sharp equipment
- if you think you have been exposed to HIV you may be able to access PEP, a 4-week course of ARV drugs taken after possible HIV exposure to prevent HIV infection. You must start PEP within 72 hours of possible exposure to be effective.
For more detailed information on how to prevent HIV infection visit the relevant page from the listed below:
I Have Hiv How Can I Prevent Passing Hiv To Others
Take HIV medicines daily. Treatment with HIV medicines helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. One of the goals of ART is to reduce a person’s viral load to an undetectable level. An undetectable viral load means that the level of HIV in the blood is too low to be detected by a viral load test. People with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partner through sex.
If your viral load is not undetectableâor does not stay undetectableâyou can still protect your partner from HIV by using condoms and choosing less risky sexual behaviors. Your partner can take medicine to prevent getting HIV, which is called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. PrEP is an HIV prevention option for people who don’t 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. To learn more, read the Clinicalinfo Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis fact sheet.
Read Also: What Percentage Of The Population Has Hiv