How do you get HIV

Different possible ways in which you can be HIV infected

HIV is one of the most dangerous viruses that sexual intercourse can transmit among other sexually transmitted diseases. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus which attacks the immune system to a great extent.

This virus destroys the CD4 cells inside the body which are responsible for strengthening your body against various infections. Once the level of CD4 cells starts reducing, the body cannot fight even those infections which it could otherwise.

HIV and AIDS – The relationship between the two

  • While most of the people think that HIV and AIDS both are the same, it is not true because HIV is a virus that causes the disease called AIDS.
  • HIV causes AIDS in an extreme stage in which the quantity of CD4 cells in the body reduces to an extremely low level and the body catches some very dangerous infections.
  • With AIDS, it is difficult to survive for a longer duration. A person infected with HIV, and not detected with AIDS, can survive for decades with proper care.
  • Once a person gets HIV infected, it may take up to ten years for the person to get affected by AIDS.
  • Proper medication and treatment can work on your body and enhance this period to multiple decades.

Does HIV remain throughout life?

  • Unfortunately yes, once HIV gets inside a body, it stays there throughout life as no permanent cure has been developed for this disease to date.
  • However, with proper treatment, the effects of HIV reduce to such an extent that it can remain as an unnoticeable thing inside you and cannot hence transmit as well to others.

HIV Symptoms – Be careful about them

  • Before we understand how we can get HIV affected, let us first look into how does HIV affect us and what are the symptoms of HIV.
  • When someone is HIV infected, the first symptoms are found within a few weeks of getting infected.
  • The symptoms are basic flu-related symptoms such as fever, throat infection and fatigue and there are no other specific symptoms.
  • Because of this, in most cases without HIV tests, HIV goes undetected until the later extreme stage of AIDS.

How do you get HIV?

  • Now that we have an understanding of HIV and its symptoms, let us understand in what ways a person can get HIV infected.
  • There are not many ways in which you can get HIV infected and hence it is important to understand the possibilities.
  • Some ways are more common than the others; however, it is important to understand each one of them.

The different methods by which HIV can be spread are-

Unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person

  • HIV gets transmitted from an infected person to a non-infected person because of this major reason.
  • HIV can easily spread through semen and hence any form of unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person can result in the virus getting transmitted to the partner.
  • Both anal and vaginal sex is prone to the infection getting transmitted with anal sex having a higher possibility.
  • HIV is most commonly spread due to this reason and hence it is always recommended to use protections or medicines to avoid getting affected by an HIV infected partner.
  • HIV infected partners have a high probability, usually, about not being aware of his or her condition and unknowingly transferring the virus while having sex.

Using an injection needle already used by an infected person

  • This is another way very common way when it comes to HIV spread. Although, it is a serious rule laid down by the hospitals to ensure non-reuse of an injection needle or similar medical equipment; there have been some violations now and then which result in the virus spread.
  • It is important to understand that our safety is in our hands and we can avoid this situation by ensuring that we don’t let anyone use an already used injection needle on us.
  • We can be proactive in telling the medical person to open the new package in front of us and then use it.

Transfusion of infected blood

  • We may need to take blood from a blood bank or another person for various medical reasons in different situations of life.
  • In such cases, there is a chance of infected blood transfusion in our bodies.
  • This used to be a major source of HIV transmission earlier but thankfully it is not the case now.
  • Technological advancements and pretests of these blood units and the donors, this risk has reduced to the minimum.

There are very fewer chances now to catch the infection in this way these days.

Pregnancy may spread the infection to the newborn

  • A mother can transmit HIV infection to her child during pregnancy because the mother’s blood and egg are the foundation of a child.
  • However, in modern times, medicine has developed to a great extent and with proper medicines and care HIV transmission from mother to child prevents to a great level.
  • There are various tests performed on the mother and HIV is one of them which identifies whether the mother is HIV infected or not.
  • Giving Proper treatment to the mother diagnosed as HIV positive can ensure that the infection does not reach the child.

Infection in a child through breastfeeding

  • HIV mainly spreads through fluids and breast milk of an infected woman is one of the fluids that can transmit HIV.
  • This is the reason; mothers infected with HIV are not allowed to breastfeed their children to avoid unwanted transmission.

Oral sex with an infected person may also transmit HIV

  • Sex can be done in different ways and oral sex is one of these ways widely followed by couples.
  • The chances of getting infected by HIV after having oral sex with your infected partner are extremely low.
  • This can happen when you happen to come in contact with your partner’s menstrual blood, sore mouth or vagina or penis or bleeding gums.

An HIV infected person bites you

  • Another possible way of transmitting HIV is through an HIV infected person’s bite but this is one of the extremely rare scenarios.
  • In this case, the only way HIV can transmit through cuts in your skin when blood gets in the touch of the infection.

Other ways

  • Some other ways are there which are either similar to the ones explained above such as body piercing.
  • Some other ways are also there which are very rare such as eating food bitten by an HIV infected person.
  • When an infected person has a sore mouth and blood injects in the food due to that then only such a thing may happen.

HIV is not spread by –

  • Now that we have understood that HIV can spread due to various factors which may or may not be in our control, we now need to understand that we should not disown a person because he or she is HIV infected.
  • HIV does not spread through air, mosquitoes, touching, hugging, handshakes, sharing toilets, and sharing cutlery among others.

How can you stay away from HIV infection? – Know the precautions

  • We should be well aware of our well being as adults and should know how we need to act to keep ourselves and our known healthy and away from any diseases.
  • HIV is dangerous, so it is best to prevent yourself from catching this virus.

Avoid getting trapped with this lifelong disease by following this advice–

  • Sexual intercourse is great but unprotected sex is not a wise thing to have. Always prefer to have sex with protection to avoid the transmission of any of the Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD).
  • Be vigilant in checking the syringe used by the medical persons and insist on using a fresh package that opens in front of you or your known.
  • Cross verify the blood reports of the donor’s blood in case you or any of your family members need any blood transfusion.
  • In case you are pregnant and are infected with HIV, properly take the required medicines and care as suggested by the doctors to avoid the transmission of HIV to your child.
  • Ensure the needle used is fresh and not already used when you opt for body piercing or something similar.

Conclusion

One can stay away from this virus with proper care and a person infected with this virus can reduce the chances of transmission to others significantly. HIV positive people can live a long life with proper medication and can keep away from the deadly disease of AIDS throughout their life. It is important to periodically get yourself checked for HIV in a designated clinic and in case of any infections immediately seek a piece of medical advice. It is better to stay alert towards your health than repenting at a later stage. Though there are different ways to get HIV infected, there are different ways to get treated as well and live a long life even after having HIV infection with proper medication and care.

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