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HIV Signs & Symptoms

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. That is a bit wordy, so let us break it down.

Human – HIV can only affect humans, like you or me.

Immuno – Meaning your immune system, which is your body’s built-in defence against illnesses.

Deficiency – This means something isn’t working the way it should.

Virus – A tiny germ that can only reproduce if it is within a living being.

This means the virus attacks the cells in your immune system and weakens the body’s ability to fight everyday infections and diseases.

HIV and AIDS are not the same things. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and is the name used to describe a variety of potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen when your immune system has been severely damaged by the HIV virus. Meaning HIV if left untreated would lead to AIDS.

World AIDS day is on the 1st of December every year since 1988, it is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV, and mourning those who tragically lost their lives to the disease.

How does it spread?

If someone is HIV positive and has a detectable viral load (this is the amount of HIV in the persons' blood), they can pass it on through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, anal mucus and breast milk. So in summary;

HIV’s 3 transmission routes,

  • Unprotected sex (vaginal and anal)

  • Through blood-to-blood contact