What is HIV?
It stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus weakens a persons immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. No effective cure exists for HIV.
How is HIV spread?
It is spread through certain body fluids- blood, semen, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids and breast milk.
What is AIDS?
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome [AIDS] is the most severe stage of HIV infection. People who have AIDS have badly damaged immune systems and get increasing number of severe illnesses. Without treatment people with AIDS may only survive for 3 years.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
These are generally non specific but include a range of common conditions
- Flu like illness
- Sore throat
- Severe fatigue
- Night sweats
- Sores or ulcers around your mouth
- Non itchy rash
- Weight loss
- Cough and shortness of breath
How to test for HIV?
You can use a home HIV test kit which is a finger prick blood sample which is 99% accurate at detecting HIV exposure that may have occurred more than 12 weeks ago and can potentially pick up HIV infection from 4 weeks ago.
If this test is not a clear negative, you will then need to give a serum blood sample to confirm a positive result.
What is the treatment for HIV?
Highly active antiretroviral therapy [HAART] is the use of at least 3 drugs that suppress HIV replication. These medicines do not cure HIV but instead help people to live longer, healthier lives.