Dr. Vaishak Vidyadhar, Physician with The Bangalore Hospital, Bangalore, talks about the some of the basics facts about HIV (Human Immunodeficiency virus).
“The most common mode of spread of HIV is through sexual intercourse. It can be prevented by practicing safe sex, using condoms.”
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is divided into two types:
- HIV 1: Most common form of HIV, responsible for 90% of cases.
- HIV 2: Rare form of HIV, reported from some parts of West Africa. Responsible for 5-10% cases only.
HIV attacks the immune system of a human body, targeting the T-helper cells (CD4), a type of white blood cells. HIV gradually weakens the human body, thus rendering it vulnerable to other infections and diseases.
AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is the last stage of HIV infection. Not all HIV-positive persons will develop AIDS.
An individual who is HIV positive, if left untreated may ultimately succumb to it. However, this would greatly depend on the individual’s age, health and other factors and may take 15-20 years.
HIV can be transmitted through:
- Unsafe sex, including anal, vaginal and sometimes oral intercourse with an infected person.
- It can pass from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding.
- Sharing needles and syringes with infected individuals.
- Transmitted through infected blood, organ, and tissue transplant.
You cannot get infected with HIV by:
- Sharing things with an infected person
- Insect bites
- Touching or kissing
Remember, there is no cure for HIV. Prevention is the only means to ensure that you are safe against this deadly virus. Right treatment with effective antiretroviral and support is crucial for an infected individual to live longer.