Health Program

 HIV/ AIDS

Definition


Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system, making it difficult for the body to fight infection and disease.


Cause


The infection is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).


Risk Factors


Most people get HIV by having unprotected sex or sharing needles with someone who is infected with HIV. You have an increased risk of becoming infected with HIV through sexual contact if you:


  • Have unprotected sex (do not use condoms).

  • Have multiple sex partners.

  • Is a man who has sex with other men?

  • Have high risk behaviors partner(s), partner has multiple sex partners, is a man who has sex with other men, or injects drugs.

  • Have or have recently had an STD, such as Syphilis.


Symptoms


  • Abdominal cramps, nausea, or vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpits and groin area

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Muscle aches and joint pain

  • Skin rash

  • Sore throat

  • Weight loss


Diagnosis


A health professional diagnoses HIV with antibody blood tests called the ELISA and the Western blot assay. A diagnosis of HIV is made after 2 or more positive ELISA testes are confirmed by a positive Western blot assay.


Treatment


Treatment for HIV depends on what stage of the infection you are in: early, established or late (AIDS). This is determined by your CD4+ cell count, the amount of virus in your blood, and whether you have had certain illnesses that are most common in people who have weakened immune systems. The most effective treatment for HIV is highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)- a combination of several antiretroviral drugs that aims to control the amount of virus in your body.


Prevention


You can keep from getting HIV by avoiding behaviors that might result in contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.


  • Practice safe sex to prevent HIV. Always use a condom during sexual activity.

  • Do not have sex, including oral sex, with anyone who is infected with HIV. If you choose to continue to have sex with someone who has HIV, it is important to practice safe sex and to be regularly tested for HIV.

  • Reduce your number of sex partners, preferably to one partner.

  • Ask your sex partner or partners about their sexual history. Find out if your partner has engaged in high risk behaviors.

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs, which can impair your judgment and your immune system. People who know and understand safer sex practices may not practice them when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Do not share intravenous (IV) needles, syringes, cookers, cotton, cocaine spoons or eyedroppers with others if you use drugs.