First identified in 1983 by two seperate research groups led by Robet Gallo and Luc Montagnier in the United States, HIV stands for Human Immunodefficiency Virus and belongs to a class of viruses known as retro-viruses. If untreated, a person Living with HIV would progress to a stage known as AIDS or Aquired Immune Defficiency Syndrome. Once infected, HIV begins to attack the immune system of the infected individual and weakens it making the victim vulnerable to other forms of opportunistic infections and various other diseases which can be fatal.
How is HIV Spread?
There are 5 body fluids that can transmit the HIV virus:
All of the above body fluids contain high viral loads of HIV and can cause infection if they enter the blood stream.
The most common modes of HIV transmission:
Unprotected sexual activity with someone with HIV
Sharing Injection Drug equipment with someone with HIV
Mother to child transmission
How is HIV not Spread?
HIV is not spread by casual contact with an HIV positive person:
Sharing cutlery, sharing toilet seats, sharing drinking glasses, sharing swimming pools, hugging a positive person, shaking hands will not spread HIV
HIV is not spread by Saliva, sweat, urine/fecal matter
What is ART Treatment?
The HIV virus damages the immune systems of those living with the virus and if not controlled, will go on to develop into AIDS. Currently there is no cure for HIV, but the virus can be controlled and suppressed in such a way that PLHVs can go to live normal lives. ART or Anti Retrovidal Treatment is a medication/combination of medications that suppress the virus and reduces its concentration, thus keeping it at bay. If adhered to properly, the viral load can be reduced to undetectable levels and this reduces that probability of transmission by 99%.