FAQ ON DISSEMINATION

Answer

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

H - Human: because this virus can only infect human beings.
I - Immune-deficiency: because the effect of the virus is to create a deficiency, or a failure to work properly, within the body's immune system.
V - Virus: because this organism is a virus, which means one of its characteristics is that it is incapable of reproducing by itself. It reproduces by taking over the machinery of the human cell.

A - Acquired: because it is a condition one must acquire or get infected with; not something transmitted through the genes
I - Immune: because it affects the body's immune system, the part of the body which usually works to fight off germs such as bacteria and viruses
D - Deficiency: because it makes the immune system deficient (makes it not work properly)
S - Syndrome: because someone with AIDS may experience a wide range of different diseases and opportunistic infections 

Answer

HIV can be transmitted from an infected person to another through:

·         Blood (including menstrual blood)

·         Semen

·         Vaginal secretions

·         Breast milk

·         pre-ejaculate

Blood contains the highest concentration of the virus, followed by semen, followed by vaginal fluids, followed by breast milk.

Activities That Allow HIV Transmission

·         Unprotected sexual contact

·         Direct blood contact, particularly through sharing injection drug needles.

·         Infections due to blood transfusions, accidents in health care settings or certain blood products are possible, although they are extremely rare nowadays in the United States.

·         Mother to baby (before or during birth, or through breast milk)

Sexual intercourse:In the genitals and the rectum, HIV may infect the mucous membranes directly or enter through cuts and sores caused during intercourse (many of which would be unnoticed). Both Anal and vaginal intercourse are high-risk practices.

Sharing injection needles: An injection needle can pass blood directly from one person's bloodstream to another. It is a very efficient way to transmit a blood-borne virus. Sharing needles is considered a high-risk practice.

Mother to Child:Mother to child transmission is now rare in the US and other developed countries because pregnant women who are HIV-positive are normally given medications to prevent the fetus from getting infected. However, it is possible for an HIV-infected mother to pass the virus directly before or during birth, or through breast milk. Breast milk contains HIV, and while small amounts of breast milk do not pose significant threat of infection to adults, it is a viable means of transmission to infants.

Answer

Primary HIV infection is the first stage of HIV disease, when the virus first establishes itself in the body. Some researchers use the term acute HIV infection to describe the period of time between when a person is first infected with HIV and when antibodies against the virus are produced by the body (usually 6- 12 weeks).

Some people newly infected with HIV will experience some "flu-like" symptoms. These symptoms, which usually last no more than a few days, might include fevers, chills, night sweats and rashes (not cold-like symptoms). Many other people either do not experience acute symptoms, or have symptoms so mild that they may not notice them.

Given the general character of the symptoms of acute infection, they can easily have causes other than HIV, such as a flu infection. For example, if you had some risk for HIV a few days ago and are now experiencing flu-like symptoms, it might be possible that HIV is responsible for the symptoms, but it is also possible that you have some other viral infection.

Answer

There are no common symptoms for individuals diagnosed with AIDS. When immune system damage is more severe, people may experience opportunistic infections (called "opportunistic" because they are caused by organisms which cannot induce disease in people with normal immune systems, but take the "opportunity" to flourish in people with HIV). 

Answer

The time it takes for a person who has been infected with HIV to seroconvert (test positive) for HIV antibodies is commonly called the "Window Period".

Recent studies show that a test taken at least 12 weeks (3 months) after the last possible exposure to the virus provides highly accurate results. Based on those studies, many testing clinics in California and other places use a 3 month window period. Rarely, a person could take up to six months to produce antibodies and that is almost always a person with a severely compromised immune system due to another disease, such as leukemia. 

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