You may have heard about HIV and AIDS, but many people don’t know the basic facts about them. HIV causes AIDS. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It breaks down the immune system as our body’s protection against disease. HIV causes people to become sick with infections that normally wouldn’t affect them. AIDS is short for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It is the most advanced stage of HIV disease.
Symptoms of HIV
Some people develop HIV symptoms shortly after being infected. But it usually takes more than 10 years. There are several stages of HIV disease. The first HIV symptoms may include swollen glands in the throat, armpit, or groin. Other early HIV symptoms include slight fever, headaches, fatigue, and muscle aches. These symptoms may last for only a few weeks. Then there are usually no HIV symptoms for many years. That is why it can be hard to know if you have HIV.
Symptoms of AIDS
AIDS symptoms appear in the most advanced stage of HIV disease. In addition to a badly damaged immune system, a person with AIDS may also have thrush, severe or recurring vaginal yeast infections, or they can also have chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, severe and frequent infections, frequent fevers, increasing shortness of breath, inside the mouth, fever, weight loss and extreme fatigue, severe headaches with neck stiffness and also some of the other basic symptoms.
People have lots of questions about the ways you can get HIV. HIV is transmitted in blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. The most common ways HIV is spread are by having vaginal or anal intercourse without a condom with someone who has HIV/AIDS, sharing needles or syringes with someone who has HIV/AIDS, being deeply punctured with a needle or surgical instrument contaminated with HIV, getting HIV-infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions into open wounds or sores, Babies born to women with HIV/AIDS can get HIV from their mothers during birth or from breastfeeding.
- HIV is not transmitted by simple casual contact such as kissing, sharing drinking glasses, or hugging.
- If you have HIV and are pregnant, consult a health care provider who knows about HIV disease. Without treatment, about 25 out of 100 babies born to women with HIV are also infected. However, the use of HIV medicines, cesarean delivery, and refraining from breastfeeding can reduce the risk of transmission to less than 2 out of 100.
- There are many ways you can protect yourself from HIV. The surest way is to abstain from sexual intercourse and from sharing needles and works if you use steroids, hormones, or other drugs. Many people have been infected with HIV by sharing needles.
- If you are using needles for steroids, hormones, or other drugs
- Never share needles.
- Get into a needle-exchange program.
- Be sure to disinfect the needles you use.
- Don’t share personal items that may have blood on them. This includes toothbrushes, razors, needles for piercing or tattooing, and blades for cutting or scarring.
- If you choose to have sex, have safer sex to reduce the risk of exchanging blood, semen, or vaginal fluids with your sex partner.
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