Human Immunodeficiency Virus, California
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Patient Info

HIV (AIDS)

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, it is a disease that is transmitted through secretions like blood or semen, therefore the most usual forms of transmission is through unprotected sex with an infected person, sharing needles, and blood transfusions during the 80’s.

What are the symptoms of an HIV infection? A person can be infected with HIV and not show any symptoms of disease for as long as 10 years or even more. When first infected, a person can have flu like symptoms like a mild fever, body aches, and throat pain. After that a person develops symptoms after the immune system is very compromised. That is the reason why people with HIV get diseases that people without HIV wouldn’t get like aggressive cancers and infections that can cause death.

What  are the risk factors for HIV? There are several risk factors, the more important ones are unprotected sex, men who have sex with men, IV drug users and sharing needles. Also, newborns who are born to mothers with HIV can get infected. Now it is much less frequent but people who have received blood transfusions from HIV infected patients are at risk (most countries now screen for HIV before transfusion). Medical personnel are also at an increased risk since there is exposure to needles and bodily fluids.

How can I prevent getting infected? Prevention is relatively simple, it involves avoiding activities that will put you at risk such as unprotected sex, sharing needles, IV drugs. Also drugs  use in general and excessive alcohol consumption are risky activities since you may be exposed to the previous risks more often under intoxication. As of right now, avoiding risk factors is the only way of prevention, there is no vaccine available yet.

Is it important to get tested for HIV? It is very important to get tested especially if you are sexually active and have some of the risk factors mentioned before. The test is done checking for antibodies in your blood, if positive some other tests may be needed.

Can HIV be cured? HIV cannot be cured,it can only be treated, therefore prevention is very important.

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