Get informed : Sexuality

STIS
 
HIV/AIDS
 
What is it?
•    HIV is an infection caused by a virus.

•    HIV attacks the immune system. More and more, it is considered to be a slow progressing chronic disease that requires long-term treatment.

•    There is no treatment to cure HIV/AIDS. However, with proper treatment, a seropositive (infected with HIV) individual may live symptom-free throughout their life.

•    Some people don’t develop symptoms even when they are carrying the virus. They can, however, transmit the virus.

•    The biggest group of people affected are between the ages of 20 and 40.

•    The virus can affect both women and men, regardless of their sexual orientation.

 
Symptoms

•    HIV infection comprises four phases:
  1. primary infection
  2. asymptomatic
  3. symptomatic
  4. AIDS
•    Symptoms associated with the primary infection phase are only manifested by 30% of people infected with HIV, and sometimes none of these symptoms appear:
  • Night sweats
  • Severe fatigue
  • Significant weight loss
  • Swollen glands in the neck, armpits or groin
  • Diarrhea, fever or persistent cough
•    Some people have no symptoms at the time of infection. Studies show that up to 13 years can elapse before someone infected with HIV develops HIV/AIDS.

•    This virus attacks the immune system. As a result, it can affect the lungs, skin, digestive system and nervous system.

•    After several years, more acute manifestations are associated with AIDS, including pneumonia and certain types of cancer.

 
Diagnosis
•    A blood test is required to detect the virus’ antibodies.

•    A positive test confirms that the person is carrying the virus, and that he or she is seropositive. For test results to be conclusive, you must wait three months following the last high-risk sexual relation before doing the test.

 
How do you contract it?

•    Through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person

•    Through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person (e.g. using a contaminated, used needle or syringe).

•    During pregnancy, childbirth or nursing, the mother can transmit the infection to the baby.

•    The virus cannot penetrate skin. An opening, such as an open sore, cut, or lesion is required for the virus to infect someone.

 
How do you treat it?

•    At the moment, there is no effective treatment to cure this infection.

•    Treatment and medications can control certain infections that develop, without, however, eliminating the virus.

 
How do you prevent the infection from spreading?

•    Use a condom during sexual relations and do not share needles or syringes. These are the safest ways to avoid the spread of HIV.

•    Inform your sexual partners so that they can consult a physician to check for STIs, even if they don’t have any symptoms.

 
How can you protect yourself?
•    Abstinence (not having sex)

•    Appropriate use of a condom or dental dam during vaginal, anal or oral sex

•    Avoid all blood-to-blood contact (e.g. sores or wounds) and do not share needles, syringes or razors

•    Limit your number of partners

•    Find out about your partners’ sexual past (note: this is no guarantee!)

•    Undergo regular screening tests if you think you are at risk
•    Consult a physician if any of your partners have HIV/AIDS

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