What is HIV and AIDS?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It attacks and destroys the immune system.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. This is a medical condition that occurs when the immune system is too weak and to fight off infections and has more than one opportunistic disease.
How is it transmitted?
- Unprotected vaginal and anal sex (the virus can be passed through semen. Pre-cum, vaginal fluid/discharge and blood.
- Blood to blood contact (blood transfusions)
- Sharing injecting equipment
- Mother to child via natural birth or breastmilk
Symptoms of HIV:
- Unintentional weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Skin rashes especially on the face or genitals
- Herpes ulcers
- Thrush infections in the mouth or genitals
- Swollen lymph glands in the neck, groin or armpits.
- Practising safe sex
- Avoid sharing items that could have blood on them (e.g. toothbrush, razor and needles)
- Do not engage in sexual activity without a condom if you do not know your partner’s HIV status
- Use condoms correctly
- Avoid share sex toys or make sure they’re cleaned in anti-bacterial soap before sharing
Myths about HIV:
- Only gay men contract the virus
- You can contract HIV by hugging, kissing, shaking hands and sharing objects such as cups or towels
- Swimming in the same pool as an infected person
- HIV cannot be transmitted through saliva, sweat or urine as there is not enough of the virus in those body fluids to infect another person.
These myths hold no truth, HIV/AIDS does not discriminate and is contracted purely through sexual contact and blood to blood contact.