What Is HIV And How Does It Spread

What Is HIV And How Does It Spread

HIV is a short name for human immunodeficiency virus. The virus can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS, if not treated. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot completely get rid of HIV even with treatment. So once you get HIV, you have it in life.

HIV attacks the body’s immune system, especially CD4 cells (T cells), which helps the immune system to fight infections. Untreated HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T-cells) in the body, making the person more likely to have other infections or infection-related cancers. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body is unable to fight infections and diseases. These opportunistic infections or cancers use a very weak immune system and indicate that a person has AIDS, which is the last stage of HIV infection.

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Acute HIV infection also known as Stage 1 

What is Stage 1 HIV?

Within 2-4 weeks of HIV infection, people may experience flu-like illness, which may take a few weeks. It is the body’s natural reaction to infection. If people have an acute HIV infection, they have a high level of viral blood levels and are very contagious. But people with acute infections are often unaware that they are infected because they may not feel bad or at all. To find out if someone has an acute infection, you need either an antigen/antibody test or a nucleic acid (NAT) test. If you think you have been exposed to HIV through sex or use of drugs, and if you have flu-like symptoms, seek medical advice and ask for a test to diagnose an acute infection.

Clinical latency (HIV inactivity or dormancy) also called Stage 2

What Happens in Stage 2 HIV?

This period is also called as asymptomatic or chronic HIV infection. In this phase, HIV is still active, but is repeated at a very low level. At this time, people may not have symptoms or become ill. For people who do not use drugs to treat HIV, this period may last for ten years or longer, but some may progress at this stage sooner.

People who use drugs to treat HIV (ART) in the right way, every day may have been for decades. It is important to remember that people in this phase can still transfer HIV to others, although people who use ART and are staying in a virus suppression (having very low viral levels in the blood) are much less likely to have HIV transmission than those that are not viral depressed.

At the end of this phase, human viral load starts and a reduction in CD4 counts begins. As this happens, a person may start to have symptoms as the viral level in the body increases and the person moves to stage 3.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) known as Stage 3

Symptoms of Stage 3 HIV:

AIDS is the most serious phase of HIV infection. People with AIDS have such badly damaged immune system that they receive an increasing number of serious illnesses called opportunistic diseases.

In the absence of treatment, people with AIDS usually survive for about 3 years. In general, the symptoms of AIDS include chills, fever, sweating, swollen lymph nodes, weakness and weight loss. People have been diagnosed with AIDS if their CD4 cell count decreases below 200 cells/mm or if they experience some opportunistic diseases. People with AIDS may have high viral load and are highly infectious.

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How Does HIV Spread or Transmit?

You can only receive or transfer HIV through specific actions. Most often, people receive or carry HIV through sexual behaviour and use of needles or syringes.

how-does-HIV-spread

HIV infection can only be transferred to a few body fluids-blood, sperm pre-seed fluid (pre-pump), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids and breast milk. These liquids must be in contact with the mucous membranes or damaged tissues or be directly injected into the bloodstream (needle or syringe) in order to carry out the transfer. The mucous membrane is located in the rectum, vagina, penis and mouth inside.

Myths about HIV Transmission:

“HIV can be spread through mosquitoes”

No. HIV cannot be spread by mosquitoes, ticks, or any other insects.

“HIV spreads from spit or scratch from an infected person”

HIV isn’t spread through saliva, and there is no risk of transmission from scratching because no body fluids are transferred between people.

In the United States, HIV spreads mainly

  • With anus or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or using medicines to prevent or treat HIV.
  • HIV-negative partner with the highest risk of sexual behaviour is receptant to rectal sex (degrading), but you can also get HIV from genital sex.
  • Each partner can get HIV with vaginal sex, although it is less risky to get HIV than a receptual to rectal sex.
  • Sharing of needles or syringes, flushing water or other equipment (works) used to prepare the drug for injections with someone who has HIV. HIV depending on temperature and other factors can live up to 42 days.

Uncommon HIV may spread

  • From mother to child during pregnancy, birth or lactation. Although the risk may be high if the mother lives with HIV and does not take medicines, recommendations to test all the pregnant HIV and start HIV treatment has immediately reduced the number of HIV infected children.
  • Stuck with HIV contaminated needles or other sharp objects. This is a risk mainly for health workers.

Cases where getting infected by HIV is rare

  • Oral sex-on penis, vaginal (cunnilingus) or anus (swell). In general, there is little or no risk of getting HIV from oral sex. However, the transfer of HIV, although very rare, is theoretically possible if the HIV-positive man, during oral sex, ejaculates in the partner’s mouth. To learn more about how to reduce the risk, see oral sex and HIV risk.
  • Blood transfusion, blood products, or organ/tissue transplantation that is infected with HIV. This was more common in HIV early years, but now the risk is extremely low due to the US blood supply and donated organs and tissues rigorous examination.
  • Eating with food that has been previously chewed by a person with HIV. Pollution occurs when an infected blood from a HIV infected persons mouth is mixed with food while they are chewing. The only known cases are among infants.
  • Becoming an infected person in HIV. Each of the very small documented cases is associated with severe trauma with extensive tissue damage and blood presence. No risk of skin transmission when the skin is damaged.
  • By contact between damaged skin, wounds or mucous membranes, as well as HIV infected body fluids.
  • Deep, kisses if both partners have ulcers or bleeding, and HIV positive partner blood passes into the HIV negative partner blood. HIV is not distributed through Saliva.

Does HIV Spread Through (Rectal) Anal Sex?

Yes. In fact, rectal (anal) sex is the most risky sex way to get HIV or broadcast.

HIV may be present in certain body fluids such as blood, sperm (jizm), pre-seed fluid (pre-liquid) or rectal fluids with HIV. Although receptious to rectal sex is much riskier to get HIV than an imitative rectal sex (topping), it is possible that the partner is receiving HIV at the top or bottom. Bottom risk is very high because the rectum lining is thin and can allow HIV to fall into the body of rectal sex.

The upper part is also compromised, because HIV can penetrate the body through the opening of the penis at the end (or in the urethra).

If the penis is not circumcise; or small cuts, scratches or open sores anywhere in the penis then it also includes high risk.

Does HIV Spread through Tattoo or Piercing?

In the United States, no case is known when a person is receiving HIV. However, it is possible to obtain HIV from either reused or incorrectly sterilized tattoo or piercing needles or other equipment or from contaminated ink.

It is possible to obtain HIV from tattoo or body piercing if the equipment used in these procedures has a common blood or ink. Such risk of HIV infection is very low, but the risk increases if the person carrying out the procedure is unlicensed, as there is an unsanitary practice such as needle or ink exchange. If you have a tattoo or body piercing, make sure that the person conducting the procedure is properly licensed and that they only use new or sterilized needles, inks and other accessories.

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