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What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

HIV is a virus that gradually weakens a person’s immune system, reducing their protection against other diseases. You need to have acquired HIV to develop AIDS.

Without HIV treatment and care people living with HIV will experience damage to their immune system and will develop AIDS -defining illnesses at some point in the future.

AIDS stands for ‘acquired immune deficiency syndrome’. It means a collection of illnesses (‘syndrome’) caused by a virus people pick up (‘acquire’) that makes their immune system get weak (‘immune deficiency’). You cannot get an AIDS diagnosis unless you are already HIV positive.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is not passed on easily from one person to another, especially compared to other viruses. That’s because HIV is present in body fluids (e.g. semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, blood). So for HIV to be passed on, the body fluids of someone who  has already contracted HIV have to get into the bloodstream of a person who has not acquired HIV.

Other body fluids, like saliva, sweat or urine, do not contain enough of the virus to affect another person

The main ways that HIV can be transmitted are:

  • through sexual intercourse and other sexual activities
  • from mother to baby
  • from blood to blood
  • sharing injecting equipment

Find loads more information about HIV, how it is transmitted, when testing is most effective and how it works, by visiting the National AIDS Trust website.

It starts with me…   If we all test, we can help stop HIV.

Source “IT STARTS WITH ME” Published Tuesday, April 23, 2013

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