A Sexually Transmitted Infection
Katie Salerno/Flickr Creative Commons
Some STIs like syphilis and herpes cause open sores that make it easier for HIV to enter the body. Others like gonorrhea and chlamydia cause inflammation in the genitals that attracts the very immune cells that HIV likes to target and infect.
Having syphilis can increase your risk of HIV by as much as 500%. Other STIs can do the same. Because of this, you should be tested for HIV if you test positive for any STI.
How Else Can I Protect Myself
If you are going to have unprotected sex, you may be able to prevent HIV infection by taking a medication called PrEP . Clinical trials have shown that taking PrEP is a very reliable way of preventing HIV infection in people who are at high risk of getting HIV.
How to get PrEP
- NHS Scotland has provided PrEP across Scotland since July 2017.
- NHS Wales started the PrEPared Wales project in July 2017. PrEP is set to be routinely available on the NHS imminently.
- NHS England began routine commissioning of PrEP in October 2020 through Sexual Health Services. This follows the Impact Trial which began in 2017.
- Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland started offering PrEP through a pilot in summer 2018. PrEP is set to be made routinely available through HSCNI imminently.
The drugs used for PrEP are the same as those used for the treatment of people living with HIV and are very safe, with serious side effects occurring very rarely.
Bear in mind that, unlike condoms, PrEP will not protect you from other sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy.
For more information on accessing PrEP, the risks and how to protect yourself, .
Getting Pregnant When You Are Hiv
If you want to conceive, are an HIV-positive woman with an HIV-negative male partner, you can choose artificial insemination. You can do this at home using your partners semen, rather than having unprotected sex.
To improve your chances of becoming pregnant through artificial insemination it is best to do it at the most fertile time in your menstrual cycle.
Learning about fertility awareness will help you to know when you are most likely to conceive.
Speak to your GP, HIV doctor, sexual health nurse, or fertility specialist.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Is there any sure way to avoid acquiring HIV?
- What is the best treatment for me?
- How can I avoid getting any infections that will make me very sick?
- How can I find support groups in my community?
- What diagnostic tests will you run?
- How often will I need to see my doctor?
- Will there be any side effects to my treatment?
- How does this affect my plans for having a family?
- Is it safe for me to breastfeed my baby?
- Will using a condom keep my sex partners from acquiring HIV?
- Should I follow a special diet?
Reducing Hiv Transmission During Labour
Ways to reduce HIV transmission during birth include:
- Avoiding procedures in labour that may scratch or cut the babys skin, wherever possible .
- Giving antiretroviral medications to the newborn for around 4 weeks after birth.
Caesarean delivery is recommended if a woman:
- Has a detectable viral load, .
- Is not taking antiretroviral treatment.
- Experiences obstetric delivery complications .
- Has other medical illness complications.
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What Do I Need To Know About Dating With Hiv
Some people feel like their love lives are over when they find out they have HIV, but its just not true. People with HIV can have fulfilling romantic and sexual relationships. People living with HIV can have relationships with partners who dont have HIV or with partners that are also living with HIV . HIV treatment helps keep you healthy and helps you avoid passing HIV to someone else. If your partner does not have HIV, they can also take a medicine called PrEP that can help protect them from getting HIV through sex.
Its important to tell your sexual partners about your HIV status. That way, you and your partners can make more informed decisions about safer sex, testing, and treatment that are right for the both of you.
Its normal to be worried about how your partners going to react. And theres no way around it: some people might get freaked out. If that happens, try to stay calm and talk about your plan to stay healthy and how they can stay HIV negative. It might help to give your partner a little time and space to process. You could also suggest they talk with your HIV doctor about ways to protect themselves from HIV.
If you tell someone you have HIV and they hurt you, shame you, or make you feel bad, its not ok. You deserve to be with someone who respects and cares about you, and there are plenty of people out there who will.
Where Can Someone Find Resources For A Person Just Diagnosed With Hiv
The following are resources to share with someone with newly diagnosed HIV:
- How to Find HIV Treatment Services, a fact sheet listing HIV-related resources, including resources to help find a health care provider and get help paying for HIV medicines, from HIVinfo.
- Telling Others, a webpage with information on how to share an HIV diagnosis with others, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Sex With A Partner That Is Hiv+
Condoms should be used during all sex acts, whether it be oral, anal or vaginal intercourse. Condoms uses correctly and consistently form very good protection against infection with HIV and most other sexually transmitted diseases.
When using condoms, check the expiration date. Condoms kept in a cool and dark place can be used for 4 years after the manufacturing date. Never use oils, creams or Vaseline for extra lubrication when using condoms. Use a water or silicon based lubricant such as KY-Jelly or other brand.
There has been no evidence of spread of HIV infection through saliva. Kissing, including tongue/deep kissing is safe. However, if there are bleeding gum irritations in the mouth deep kissing should be avoided.
Other Prevention Benefits Of Hiv Treatment
In addition to preventing sexual transmission of HIV there are other benefits of taking HIV medication to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load:
- It reduces the risk of mother-to-child transmission from pregnancy, labor, and delivery. If a woman living with HIV can take HIV medication as prescribed throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery and if HIV medication is given to her baby for 4-6 weeks after delivery, the risk of transmission from pregnancy, labor, and delivery can be reduced to 1% or less. Scientists dont know if a woman living with HIV who has her HIV under control can transmit HIV to her baby through breastfeeding. While it isnt known if or how much being undetectable or virally suppressed prevents some ways that HIV is transmitted, it is reasonable to assume that it provides some risk reduction.
- It may reduce HIV transmission risk for people who inject drugs. Scientists do not yet know whether having a suppressed or undetectable viral load prevents HIV transmission through sharing needles or other injection drug equipment, but it is reasonable to assume that it provides some risk reduction. Even if you are taking HIV medication and are undetectable, use new equipment each time you inject and do not share needles and syringes with other people.
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How Do You Know If You Have Hiv
While there are symptoms and early warning signs of an HIV infection, the only way to know for sure whether you have the virus is by getting tested. This needn’t be a scary process, and it’s vital you seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid further complications or infecting others.
21-Nov-21·5 mins read
How Is Hiv Treated
There is no vaccine or cure for HIV infection. However, there are effective treatments that can prevent the transmission of HIV and the progression to AIDS, and help ensure a near-normal life expectancy.
These treatments are known as antiretroviral therapy . They stop the virus from reproducing itself, which leads to a lower viral load. The treatment involves a combination of drugs used together.
HIV-positive people who take ART daily exactly as prescribed and achieve an undetectable viral load cant sexually transmit the virus to an HIV-negative partner.
Thanks to the improvements in treatment, HIV infection is now a manageable chronic disease for many people in countries like Australia.
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Clinics And Surgeries Offer The Two Main Types Of Hiv Test:
Full blood tests
- You receive very accurate results within 2 to 14 days of your test
- Testing is very accurate if carried out one month after you have been at risk of getting HIV
Rapid blood and saliva tests
- You receive accurate results within just 20 to 40 minutes of your test
- Testing is accurate if carried out three months after you have been at risk of getting HIV
How Is Hiv Transmitted
“HIV itself is found in bodily fluids of the infected person. These fluids include semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood and breast milk. That said, it cannot be transmitted through sweat, urine or saliva,” she says.
“Anyone who has sex without a condom or shares needles is at risk of getting infected with HIV.”
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How Are Hiv And Aids Treated
Medicines can help people with HIV stay healthy. They can also prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS.
Health care providers prescribe a combination of different medicines for people with HIV and AIDS. They must be taken exactly as prescribed or they won’t work. These medicines:
- help keep the number of CD4 cells high
- reduce the viral load of HIV
Regular blood tests will check the number of CD4 cells in the body and the viral load.
If an HIV-positive person’s CD4 count gets low, doctors prescribe daily antibiotics. This prevents pneumocystis pneumonia, which happens in people with weakened immune systems.
If I Am Pregnant And Have Hiv Will My Baby Also Have Hiv
Most women with HIV can protect their baby from becoming infected during pregnancy. Proper pre-natal treatment can reduce the risk that an HIV-positive mother will pass the virus to her child to less than 1 percent. The only way these special treatments can be provided is if the health care professionals know the mother is living with HIV. Treatment is most effective when started early in pregnancy. HIV-positive moms should not breastfeed their babies because HIV is sometimes passed this way.
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Getting Pregnant When Both Parents Have Hiv
Seroconcordant couples , can have an HIV-negative child. If both partners are on treatment, the risk of either partner transmitting HIV to their baby is almost zero.
If you are a seroconcordant couple and you are thinking of becoming pregnant it is important to speak with an obstetrician and an HIV specialist to minimise the risk of transmitting HIV to your baby.
How Is Hiv Diagnosed
An HIV antibody test, either from a blood sample or an oral sample , can tell whether you have been infected. A negative test result means no HIV antibodies were found. This usually means you are not infected. However, if you engaged in behavior that could spread the virus within three months of having the test, antibodies may not be detectable and you should be re-tested. A positive test result means antibodies to HIV were found. This means you are infected with the virus and can pass HIV to others even if you have no symptoms. You are infected for life. Even if you think you have a low risk for HIV infection, consider getting tested whenever you have a regular medical check-up.
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How Do I Avoid Passing Hiv On To Someone Else
If you are infected with HIV, the best way to prevent spreading HIV infection to others is to:
- take your medication as prescribed there is a very low risk of passing on HIV if your own infection is under control
- use condoms and a water-based lubricant for anal and vaginal sex
- never share needles, syringes and other injecting equipment
If you have HIV infection, you are expected to notify anyone who is at risk of exposure from you:
- Tell people you have had sex or taken drugs with . Your doctor can help you decide who may be at risk and help you to contact them either personally or anonymously.
- Tell anyone you intend to have sex with about your HIV status . This is required by law in some states.
If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about starting antiretroviral treatment to prevent the infection passing to the baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Read more about HIV and pregnancy.
Talk With Your Hiv Health Care Provider
Talk with your health care provider about the benefits of HIV treatment and which HIV medication is right for you. Discuss how frequently you should get your viral load tested to make sure it remains undetectable.
If your lab results show that the virus is detectable or if you are having trouble taking every dose of your medication, you can still protect your HIV-negative partner by using other methods of preventing sexual transmission of HIV such as condoms, safer sex practices, and/or pre-exposure prophylaxis for an HIV-negative partner until your viral load is undetectable again.
Taking HIV medicine to maintain an undetectable viral load does not protect you or your partner from getting other sexually transmitted diseases , so talk to your provider about ways to prevent other STDs.
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Testing Positive For Hiv During Pregnancy
HIV testing of women in early pregnancy is now routine in Australia. Testing should be done with your consent and is offered during your first set of antenatal tests.
If you receive a positive test result, be reassured that many people with HIV live a full and active life. The risk of HIV transmission to your child is very low, given appropriate treatment.
Support is available through:
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
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How Pep Is Prescribed
In the past, PEP consisted of either one, two, or three antiretroviral drugs based on the severity of the exposure. Part of the reason for this was that earlier drugs were more toxic and often caused intolerable side effects. Newer-generation antiretrovirals used for PEP are far more tolerable and tend to cause few, if any, side effects.
PEP can be used for both adults and adolescents. The CDC recommends several options, two of which are preferred and an alternate if the preferred drugs aren’t available.
|Truvada once daily plus Isentress twice daily|
|Alternative Option||Truvada once daily plus Prezista once daily plus Norvir once daily|
A follow-up HIV test would then be scheduled, usually within four to six weeks of the completion of PEP. If the test is negative, you will be counseled on how to reduce your risk of HIV moving forward.
Once started, you need to complete the entire 28-day course of treatment. If you experience intolerable side effects, call your healthcare provider or clinic immediately other drugs may be used instead. Whatever you do, don’t stop or miss doses.
Reducing Hiv Transmission Risk During Pregnancy
For HIV-positive women, ways to reduce the risk of transmission include:
- Taking antiretroviral medications before conception to reduce your viral load . The lower the viral load, the lower the risk of transmission to your unborn baby.
- Start antiretroviral HIV treatment as soon as you are diagnosed with HIV .
Being on treatment and having a low, or undetectable, viral load improves your immune system and health throughout pregnancy.
HIV-positive pregnancy today, with specialised care, is the same as HIV-negative pregnancy. Pregnancy does not make HIV progress any faster.
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The Reality Of Discrimination
Experts warn that “addictphobia” has contributed to discrimination against those who were infected with HIV through IV drug use. “Addictphobia” refers to negative beliefs and misconceptions about people who use illegal drugs. Among these false notions are the ideas that addiction is a moral failing and that addicts are unable or unwilling to change. These prejudices have slowed the availability of treatment centers for people who abuse drugs. As a result, people who are HIV-positive, African-American, and use IV drugs often face three stigmas. This heavy burden can increase isolation, anxiety, distress, and depression among those who are HIV-positive.