Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

1.Basic facts about HIV

  • HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
  • Early diagnosis allows for early treatment ensuring better long term health.
  • Effective antiretroviral treatment is available so HIV positive people can live a normal healthy life.
  • HIV is found in blood, semen, vaginal and anal fluids and also in breast milk.
  • Using protection methods (male/female condoms) during intercourse is the safest way to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • HIV CANNOT be transmitted through shaking hands or other forms of casual contact, sneezing, saliva or mouth to mouth resuscitation, urine or using the same toilet or sweat.
  • Always use new, clean needles and syringes and sharing is not allowed.
  • HIV can be passed on to the baby if a HIV positive mother breastfeeds the baby.
  • Regular testing for HIV is IMPORTANT.

2.Signs and symptoms of early HIV infection (2-6 weeks after getting the virus)

  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, sore throats, muscle aches, joint pain)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Rash
  • Night sweats
  • Swollen lymph nodes

3.What is AIDS?

  • AIDS stands for Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome.
  • It is usually referred to when HIV infection is at the advanced or late stage.
  • AIDS is a set of symptoms and illnesses that develop resulting from advanced HIV infection that has damaged the immune system.

4.Signs and symptoms of late stage of HIV infection when it has progressed to AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome)

  • Persistent or chronic diarrhoea
  • Recurring fever (>37⁰C) and night sweats
  • Pneumonia
  • Blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Prolonged swelling of the glands
  • Unintentional weight loss

Symptoms may be related to other illnesses because the body’s immune system has been damaged and is too weak to fight off any infection.

There is currently NO cure for HIV.  With early and right treatment and support from care givers, family and friends, more people with HIV can live long and healthy lives.


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