HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV weakens the body’s immune system. The immune system is made of white blood cells. White blood cells attack foreign agents in our body to keep us healthy. HIV kills white blood cells allowing infections to develop. If not treated, HIV will lead to death.
HIV can be found in blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk. HIV can be spread through sex without a condom; through sharing needles used for drugs; through contact with an infected person’s blood; or to a baby born to an HIV positive mother. Hugging, kissing, eating or drinking with someone who has HIV will not spread HIV.
The best way to prevent HIV/STIs is to avoid vaginal, oral, and anal sex. If you have sex, use condoms correctly every time. Avoid multiple sexual partners.
Condoms (male orfemale) are the only method that protect against both pregnancy and STIs, including HIV. Even if you are using another form of contraception to prevent pregnancy you should still use a condom to protect yourself from STIs.
Male circumcision offers some protection against HIV. Having a foreskin on the penis makes it easier for men to become infected with viruses including HIV. Circumcised men can still become infected with HIV and infect their partners. Circumcision only provides partial protection against HIV, so condoms must still be used
If you have had unprotected sex or take risks you should get an HIV test. HIV can take up to three months to show up on the test. Health professionals can take a sample of blood to test for HIV. You will usually receive your results the day of the test. If you want to get an HIV test, consult the directory.
Young people living with HIV should discuss their status with their partner and doctor before starting a family. HIV treatment can reduce the risk of HIV transmission from the mother to the child. For more on HIV treatment reply 36
There is no cure for HIV infection. People with HIV often lead normal lives by taking medications called antiretrovirals (ARV). Some people with HIV do not get better with ARVs. People on ARV can still transmit HIV, so condoms are needed. Most ARVs have some side effects.
Some people think you can take herbs to prevent or cure HIV. This is not true. The best way to prevent HIV is to avoid unsafe sex. The only way to treat HIV is with medicines you get at a health facility.
Stigma means not valuing a person and viewing them negatively because of something that is different about them. Stigmatizing a person or treating them unfairly because of their HIV status or sexual identity is a violation of their rights. All people deserve respect