HIV: Stands for HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS;

HUMAN: The virus can only be found in human

IMMUNODEFICIENCY: Damage to immune system

Virus: The smallest germ that cannot be seen by naked eye

HIV infection occurs when a person contrasts the virus (HIV) in his/her body. The person might look healthy but is infectious and capable of transmitting the virus to another person. HIV infects white blood cells, replicates and then destroys the body’s immune system.

AIDS: Stand for ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFFICIENCY SYNDROME

ACQUIRED: something you get from a source external to your body, one is born with it.

IMMUNE: having to do with the protective system of the body i.e how the body fights

Infections.

DEFFICIENCY: Depletion, insufficiency.

SYNDROME: collection of symptoms that follow a pattern of progression. This is the condition resulting from the HIV infection (the virus) that destroys the body’s immune system. At this point, the body’s immune system breaks down and is unable to fight off infections, known as “opportunistic infections,” and other illnesses that take advantage of a weakened immune system.

FACTORS THAT AID THE SPREAD OF HIV

  • Male/female circumcision
  • Tattooing
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Poor treatment practices for STI
  • Poverty
  • Stigma and Discrimination of Person living with HIV (PLWH)
  • Ignorance

HOW IS HIV TRANSMITTED

A person who is HIV positive has the virus in his body. The virus is found in certain body fluids; such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. The virus can be transmitted only if such HIV-infected fluids enter the bloodstream of another person.

Usually, HIV is transmitted through;

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse (either virginal or anal with someone who has HIV). Unprotected vaginal sex places both partners at a high risk of contracting HIV. Also, unprotected anal sex whether male-male or male –female poses a high risk mainly to the receptive partner, because the lining of the anus and rectum is extremely thin and is filled with small blood vessels that can be easily injured during intercourse.
  • Sharing unsterilized needles or syringes with someone who is HIV infected
  • Infection during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding
  • Unprotected Oral sex with someone who has HIV.

HOW IS HIV NOT TRANSMITTED

It is not transmitted through:

  • Air (coughing or sneezing)
  • Sharing of untensils or bathroom facilities such as public baths and toilets
  • Sweats, tears, vomit, feaces and urine do contain HIV, but the quantity of virus contained in them is not enough to infect someone and none of these fluids have ever been reported to have transmitted the virus.
  • Insect bites from mosquitoes, fleas and other insects do not transmit HIV
  • Casual contact such as touching or hugging
  • Eating food together
  • Sharing or public baths and toilets
  • Sleeping in the same room or bed

HIV CAN BE PREVENTED BY

  • Practicing safe sex.
  • Abstinence from sexual intercourse
  • Being faithful to your poartner
  • Reduction of multiple sexual partners
  • Proper treatment of STIs
  • Not sharing sharp objects
  • Treatment after risky exposure
  • Prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV intervention

FACTS AND MYTHS ABOUT HIV & AIDS

  • HIV infection is real, and is not a spiritual infection
  • There is still no cure for HIV infection, although there are drugs that reduce the viral load in the body
  • HIV infection can be prevented by change in sexual behavior e.g. being faithful to one sexual partner
  • One can still live a normal & reproductive life with HIV infection
  • HIV does not respect sex, religion or socio status
  • A husband and wife that are both HIV positive can have a baby that is HIV negative.