The Effects of HIV/AIDS


3.1   What’s the difference between HIV and AIDS?

3.2    How is HIV transmitted?

3.3    How can I avoid getting HIV?

3.4    How does HIV affect the immune system?

3.1 What’s the difference between HIV and AIDS?

HIV/AIDS is often written as one word with one meaning. However, HIV and AIDS are different things.

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. A person becomes infected with HIV (HIV positive) when the virus enters their blood stream.

HIV attacks the immune system, which is the body’s defence against disease. If a person’s immune system is severely damaged by the virus, they will develop AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). This means they are likely to get infections and illnesses that their body would normally fight off.

Being diagnosed with HIV does not mean a person has AIDS or that they are going to die. Treatments slow down damage to the immune system so that people with HIV can remain well, and live healthy and fulfilling lives.

3.2 How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is found in body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. Infection only occurs when body fluids from an infected person enter the blood stream of another person.

HIV can be transmitted by:

•    Unsafe sex (sex without a condom)

•    Sharing needles, syringes and other equipment for injecting drugs

•    Unsterile body piercing or tattooing

•    Mother-to-child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding

•    Blood transfusion and/or blood products in some other countries. In Australia, blood transfusions and blood products are safe.

HIV cannot be transmitted by:

•    Coughing

•    Sneezing

•    Kissing

•    Spitting

•    Crying

•    Sharing cutlery and crockery

•    Bed linen

•    Toilets

•    Showers

•    Insects such as mosquitoes.

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