AIDS Awareness Day is observed on December 1 every year. Here is a set of “Frequently Asked Questions” about AIDs and HIV that make rounds in everyone’s mind. This is an attempt to be of some help to people living in the dark shadow of the doubt about whether they have AIDS and what are the symptoms of AIDS?
Aids- Questions and Answers
What is AIDS?
AIDS – the acronym for ‘Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome’. A person diagnosed with AIDS has a weakened immune system – weak to such extent that it cannot fight off infections.
Does a positive HIV test mean AIDS Infection?
A positive HIV test does not always mean that the person has AIDS. The physician makes diagnosis of AIDS as per the CDC AIDS Case Definition.
What Causes AIDS?
HIV can only be passed on and never initiates on its own. There are four major ways through which AIDS get transmitted. These are as follows-
- Unprotected sex with someone who is infected with AIDS.
- Injection or transfusion of contaminated blood or blood products, artificial insemination where donation of semen takes place, skin grafts as well as organ transplants where the sources are infected.
- A baby can get infected from mother during pregnancy or while giving birth and also through breastfeeding.
- Unsterilized injection equipment shared with someone infected with AIDS virus.
Get some Condom Usage Tips for safe sex as well as to prevent HIV infection
Is oral sex safe when it comes to HIV infection from partner?
Oral sex can be a cause for HIV infection though it has lower risks than penetrative sexual intercourse with infected partner. When giving oral sex to a man, his partner can be infected with HIV if infected semen comes in contact with damaged and receding gums, or if there are cuts or sores in their mouth. While giving oral sex to a woman , infection can be transmitted if infected sexual fluids from a woman get into the mouth of her partner. The risk increases if there is menstrual blood involved or if the woman is infected with other sexually transmitted diseases.
Can kissing transmit HIV?
There is a very low risk of HIV transmission while deep or open-mouthed kissing- only when there is some kind of bleeding in mouth. Saliva cannot transmit HIV as it has negligible amount of HIV which is insufficient for causing AIDS infection. If the infected person has some kind of bleeding in mouth, he/she should avoid kissing until bleeding stops.
Can shaking hands, hugging, sneezing etc. transmit HIV?
No, casual contacts like shaking hands, hugging, casual kissing, drinking from same glass or even sneezing, coughing or using shared toilet cannot transmit HIV. It is not an airborne or food borne virus and is present in the blood, semen or vaginal secretions of an infected person. HIV can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex or by shared injection drug needles.
What are the symptoms of HIV infections?
HIV infections have very mild symptoms that often go unnoticed. The symptoms of HIV resemble the symptoms of flu and last only for a few days. These might include fevers, chills, night sweats and rashes. However, these can be the symptoms of other infections too like flu infection.
What should I do if tested HIV positive?
It is better to take early medical treatment as soon as you are tested positive for HIV. Prompt medical care is able to delay the onset of AIDS and prevent certain life-threatening conditions. You should also adopt a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude towards life as you can live longer with AIDS too but you will have to take precautions and proper treatments.
- You must visit a doctor even if you don’t feel sick but have tested positive. Doctor will conduct important tests, immunizations and drug treatments for your good health. Now there are many new medicines to treat HIV infection.
- Stop taking recreational drugs, alcoholic beverages and smoking as they further weaken immune system.
- If diagnosed HIV positive, get a hepatitis-B vaccine and bacterial pneumonia vaccines as these diseases can prove dangerous for immune suppressed people.
- Join a support group for people with HIV infection.
What are the precautions I can take to stay healthy?
You can take the following steps to stay healthy.
- Consult your doctor for lab tests that can evaluate your immune system.
- Take treatments for any of the diseases that can create problems in future. These include syphilis, TB, hepatitis-B, and toxoplasmosis.
- Go for regular check ups every three to six months.