AIDS Day Blog
19 May 2011 - HIV: Learn how HIV is transmitted, symptoms, prevention and treatments
What is HIV
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) stands for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus infects and gradually destroys immune system cells, reducing the body's protection against infection and cancers. A person infected with HIV is infected for life - there's no cure.
Over time, as the immune system weakens, a person with HIV may develop rare infections or cancers. When these are particularly serious, the person is said to have acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
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How HIV is transmitted
HIV can be transmitted from an infected person to another through:
- Blood (including menstrual blood)
- Vaginal secretions
- Breast milk
Blood contains the highest concentration of the virus, followed by semen, followed by vaginal fluids, followed by breast milk.
Activities That Allow HIV Transmission
- Unprotected sexual contact
- Direct blood contact, including injection drug needles, blood transfusions, accidents in health care settings or certain blood products
Mother to baby (before or during birth, or through breast milk)
Sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal): In the genitals and the rectum, HIV may infect the mucous membranes directly or enter through cuts and sores caused during intercourse (many of which would be unnoticed). Vaginal and anal intercourse is a high-risk practice.
Oral sex (mouth-penis, mouth-vagina): The mouth is an inhospitable environment for HIV (in semen, vaginal fluid or blood), meaning the risk of HIV transmission through the throat, gums, and oral membranes is lower than through vaginal or anal membranes. There are however, documented cases where HIV was transmitted orally, so we can't say that getting HIV-infected semen, vaginal fluid or blood in the mouth is without risk. However, oral sex is considered a low risk practice.
Sharing injection needles: An injection needle can pass blood directly from one person's bloodstream to another. It is a very efficient way to transmit a blood-borne virus. Sharing needles is considered a high-risk practice.
Mother to Child: It is possible for an HIV-infected mother to pass the virus directly before or during birth, or through breast milk. Breast milk contains HIV, and while small amounts of breast milk do not pose significant threat of infection to adults, it is a viable means of transmission to infants.
How Is HIV Infection Not Spread
Research indicates that HIV is NOT transmitted by casual contact such as:
- Touching or hugging
- Sharing household items such as utensils, towels, and bedding
- Contact with sweat or tears
- Sharing facilities such as swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, or toilets with HIV-infected people
- Coughs or sneezes
In short, studies indicate that HIV transmission requires intimate contact with infected blood or body fluids (vaginal secretions, semen, pre-ejaculation fluid, and breast milk). Activities that don't involve the possibility of such contact are regarded as posing no risk of infection.
What are the symptoms of HIV
Many people with HIV do not know they are infected.
Many people do not develop symptoms after they first get infected with HIV. Others have a flu-like illness within several days to weeks after exposure to the virus. They complain of fever, headache, tiredness, and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. These symptoms usually disappear on their own within a few weeks. After that, the person feels normal and has no symptoms. This asymptomatic phase often lasts for years.
The progression of disease varies widely among individuals. This state may last from a few months to more than 10 years.During this period, the virus continues to multiply actively and infects and kills the cells of the immune system.The virus destroys the cells that are the primary infection fighters, a type of white blood cell called CD4 cells.
Even though the person has no symptoms, he or she is contagious and can pass HIV to others through the routes listed above.
AIDS is the later stage of HIV infection, when the body begins losing its ability to fight infections.
» Learn more: HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
Read more: http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/hiv-learn-about-how-hiv-is-transmitted-symptoms-prevention-and-how-are-hiv-treated-4465164.html#ixzz1MmV9XwQz
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18 April 2011 - Community Home Based Care HIV & AIDS
The Community Home Based Care HIV & AIDS is one of The South African Red Cross Society's core programmes in health care.
South Africa has the highest prevalence of HIV infection in the world. Poverty, poor access to basic amenities and health care, limited information, and limited capacity in communities all exacerbate vulnerability to HIV. The Community Home Based Care HIV and AIDS project increases community care and support to people infected (PLHA) and affected by HIV and AIDS and support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in their psychosocial, economic and educational needs.
Care and support activities include the provision of home based care, psychosocial and economic support and strengthening of the care network. Communities will be sensitised through community health education activities, and advocacy for support for PLHA and OVC promoting their rights, and addressing the health, social and stigma issues associated with HIV and AIDS.
For more information go to The South African Red Cross Society