INFORMATION ABOUT HIV

WHAT IS HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

HIV infects and gradually destroys the infected person’s immune system. This means your body is less able to fight off normal infections and germs so any infections or illnesses are harder to treat and can take longer to recover from.

There is no cure for HIV but it Is Treatable. HIV Anti Retro-Viral (ARV) treatments are available which help suppress HIV replication to an ‘undetectable’ level, restore immune function, and improve quality and quantity of life. A person diagnosed early with HIV with treatment can expect to live well and in good health for many years.

The term used if a person is infected with HIV is that they are HIV Positive HIV+. The term used if a person is not infected with HIV is that they are HIV Negative HIV–

WHAT IS AIDS? (Now known as Advanced HIV)

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

At present in the UK, an AIDS diagnosis is confirmed if a person with HIV develops one or more of specific severe opportunistic infections or cancers. This happens because the Immune system has become more damaged due to the late diagnosis of HIV or because the virus has become resistant to medication. Illnesses that occur become more and more severe leading to an AIDS diagnosis. It is possible for someone to be very ill with HIV but not have an Advanced HIV diagnosis.

HOW IS HIV PASSED ON?

The HIV virus is in the following body fluids of a person who has HIV:

Male: Semen (cum and pre-cum) and blood;

Female: Blood, including menstrual blood; vaginal sexual fluids, and breast milk. The most common ways for the virus to be transmitted by a person who has HIV are:

Having anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom. There is also a risk during sex if a condom is used but it breaks if it is not put on correctly or comes off during withdrawal. Sharing a needle with someone, for example when injecting drugs Sharing other drug use equipment – e.g. drug snorting equipment if there is any blood. Through donated blood, if it is not screened. In Europe and the UK, all blood products are screened for HIV. Sharing tattooing or piercing equipment if blood is present. From mother to child (called Vertical Transmission). In the UK all pregnant women are offered an HIV test at ante-natal screening. If the test shows that they are HIV positive, they are monitored closely during the pregnancy, given Anti Retroviral drugs. Breastfeeding is discouraged as the HIV virus is present in the breast milk of an HIV+ woman.

HIV IS NOT PASSED ON BY….

There is no risk of HIV being passed through normal social contact with someone who is HIV positive. This includes: touching, hugging, kissing, sharing towels or clothes, sharing cups, plates or glasses, using the same toilet, bath, shower, kitchen, etc.

PRESENCE OF HIV IN BODY FLUIDS WE MAY NORMALLY COME INTO CONTACT WITH.

What to do if you have potentially been exposed to HIV?

A generic version of antiretroviral drug Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can be prescribed for people who have potentially been exposed to HIV. This form of HIV treatment can prevent the virus from becoming established in the body of someone who has been exposed. PEP treatment can be accessed from Sexual Health clinics and Accident & Emergency departments in Derby City across Derbyshire County. PEP is particularly important for people who have been sexually assaulted or people who have been exposed to blood through a needle injury or other accident at work – See more at http://www.tht.org.uk/sexual-health/About-HIV/Post-exposure-prophylaxis

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HIV TESTING

You can find out if you have become infected with HIV by having blood tests done at your local sexual health clinic. The test works by detecting antibodies produced by your body in an attempt to fight the virus. The test works by looking for antibodies in your blood to HIV rather than the virus itself.
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PrEP

PrEP stands for Pre Exposure Prophylaxis. PrEP is a tablet you take regularly, which protects you from HIV. If you take PrEP once a day, you can maximize your protection against HIV by around 99%.