Symptoms for HIV infection may not appear instantly and keep the patient from undergoing treatment for a considerable time. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) which is a condition of progressive immune system failure. This can consequent to life-threatening infections and cancer and demands earnest treatment.
In 1981, AIDS was first clinically found in the United States. Anyone can get infected with HIV. The risk increases if you have unprotected sex, use intravenous drugs, suffer from a STD and have not undergone circumcision (for men). AIDS is not curable but appropriate treatment can help a sufferer live for many years and enjoy normal life expectancy.
Causes for HIV infection
HIV can infect a person in the following ways:
HIV infection is feasible through vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner. With the infected partner’s vaginal secretion, blood or semen enters your body, you can get infected with the virus. Mouth sores and small tears in the rectum or vagina (which may arise due to sexual activity) facilitate transmission of the virus from an infected person to a non-infected person.
Sexual transmission of HIV is possible from men to men, men to women, women to men, and women to women through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Sex without using a new latex or polyurethane condom can transmit the virus from an infected partner to a healthy one. Anal sex can be more risky than vaginal sex. In case of sexual engagement with multiple partners, the risk of getting infected with the virus can increase.
If both the partners have HIV, it does not mean protection during sex is not needed. A latex barrier or a condom can prevent transmission of other strains of HIV which may be resistant to anti-HIV medication. Even though treatment for HIV is being administered to you, you can still infect others.
Blood Transfusion and Needle sharing
The virus may be transmitted through blood transfusions. Although hospitals and blood banks screen the blood supply for HIV antibodies before administering it into appropriate channels, the risk is not totally unquestionable. The risk of getting HIV is very less; about 1 in 2 million donations might carry HIV and transmit the virus when given to a patient.
HIV can be also be transmitted through contaminated needles and syringes. Infected blood can contaminate needles and syringes and facilitate transfer of the virus. Sharing intravenous drug paraphernalia also increases the risk of HIV and other infectious diseases including hepatitis. A Tattoo from an unsterilized syringe may also transfer the virus.
Sexually Transmitted Disease
Several sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can produce open sores on the genitals. These sores serve pathways for HIV infection. A research shows that presence of STDs increases susceptibility to get the human immunodeficiency virus. People with HIV and a STD are more prone to spread the virus than those who have HIV alone.
Certain STDs cause open wounds or ulcers in the genital area, thereby providing a way for HIV to enter the blood stream. Another reason behind STD and HIV connection is the increased concentration of CD4 cells in the genital area. The increased CD4 cells facilitate a ready target for infection. People suffering from a STD have higher concentrations of HIV in their genital fluids and thereby have greater chances of spreading the virus.
An HIV infected mother can pass the infection to her child during pregnancy, delivery or after birth (breast-feeding). Transmission from mother to child can largely occur during labor and delivery. Although the exact reason behind the transmission may be unknown, the hint is at placental micro transfusions. The risk of infection can be limited to certain extent through proper treatment.
Air, water or insect bites do not transmit the virus. There is insufficient evidential support for HIV infection by casual exposure. Infection is possible through blood, semen or vaginal secretions.