HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) if left without treatment. HIV weakens the body’s immune system and makes the body vulnerable to diseases and infections.
HIV is transmitted through contact with the blood, semen, vaginal fluid, anal fluid or breast milk of the affected individual. These body fluids must come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue of a non-affected person for transmission to possibly occur.
HIV it is not spread like air-borne viruses such as the flu. It can’t be passed on by hugging, shaking hands, coughing or sharing toilets and eating utensils.
To help prevent HIV transmission:
Always practice safe sex (use of condoms)
Never share needles and razors
Make sure piercings and tattoos are done using clean needles
When in doubt, check with your physician and test yourself (this is the only way to confirm transmission)
Symptoms of HIV include fever (most common), sore throat, rash, fatigue, muscle and joint pain and headache. These symptoms can last from days to several weeks.
HIV can affect anyone. Feeling accepted and having continuous support can make a big difference in helping people deal with the physical and emotional challenges of HIV.
HIV does not discriminate, people do. You can help prevent discrimination by encouraging others not to judge.