HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is one of the most talked about and researched STIs around the world because of its baffling nature and its devastating effects on the human immune system. As much as this virus is spoken about, it is never safe to assume that the facts about HIV are common knowledge to the sexually active and abstinent.
With National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day approaching on March 10, it is important to lay down the facts about one of the leading causes of death amongst African American women in the U.S. Is your knowledge about HIV accurate? Read the following points and become aware!
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- HIV only affects humans.
- Currently, there is no cure for HIV, but it can be treated with a series of medications.
- The virus attacks the body’s immune system by attaching itself to its T-cells to duplicate itself, destroying those cells in the process.
- Overtime, HIV destroys so many T-cells that the body’s immune system can no longer fight off infections and diseases. When this happens, HIV can lead to AIDS because of the lowered number of T-cells.
- HIV is spread through a healthy body coming into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected individual through sexual intercourse, pregnancy or breast feeding, injection drug use, occupational exposure or blood transfusion/organ transplant. The healthy individual becomes infected once the virus filters into the bloodstream.
- The fluids that carry HIV are blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluids, breast milk and rectal (anal) mucous.
- HIV can be transferred through oral sex and anal sex
- Having a STI can put a person at higher risk for contracting HIV.
- Using condoms during sex reduces a person’s chances of contracting HIV.
- The only way to prevent the contraction of HIV is to abstain from sex.
- The symptoms of HIV vary from person to person, but the only way to know if the virus is present in the body is to get tested.
- Flu-like symptoms are the typical symptoms of HIV, and they normally appear two to four weeks after becoming infected.
- Some people never show any symptoms of having HIV and don’t become sick until the virus turns into AIDS.
- Men who have sex with men (MSM) within any race is the population affected profoundly by HIV/AIDS.
- 1 in 6 people has HIV and is unaware of their infection.
- Heterosexual African American women follow behind MSM in the group most affected by HIV/AIDS.
- By race, African Americans face the greatest burden of HIV
- Monogamy or sticking to having sex with one partner reduces a person’s chances of becoming infected with HIV.
For more HIV information, visit the BlackDoctor.org HIV/AIDS center.