Five Common Frequently Asked Questions About HIV/AIDS

HIV (Human Immune-deficiency Virus infection) and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) are two different things. In simple words, HIV infection leads to development of a disease known commonly as AIDS.

FAQ 1: What is the difference between HIV infection and AIDS?

As mentioned above HIV and AIDS are two different things, although interrelated. Putting it in simple words, Human Immune-deficiency Virus (HIV) infection leads to development of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS. AIDS results in weakening of body immune system of infected individual, which makes him/her vulnerable to infection by common organisms, sometimes by the organisms which can not cause any disease in normal (non-HIV infected) individuals. If you are tested and confirmed HIV positive does not make you an AIDS patient. Because, it takes several years (2-10 years) to develop AIDS after getting infected with HIV, even without any treatment and with appropriate ART (anti-retroviral therapy or treatment for HIV infection), it takes much longer to develop AIDS after HIV infection.

FAQ 2: Can HIV spread by kissing?

Theoretically, yes, HIV can be spread by kissing. However, practically it is very rare. Saliva contain very small number of Human Immune-deficiency Virus, which can be (but very rare) transmitted, especially if there is any injury (cut or sore) in oral mucosa or tongue, which may cause entry of HIV to blood stream and initiate infection. Casual pecking and skin-to-skin contact do not transmit HIV infection.

FAQ 3: Can HIV be transmitted from HIV infected mother to baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Yes, HIV can be transmitted from HIV infected mother to baby during pregnancy (known as vertical transmission) and breastfeeding. HIV transmission can occur during pregnancy (before birth), during delivery and during breastfeeding (because breast milk contain small number of HIV). To prevent transmission, it is important for HIV infected pregnant women to undergo caesarean delivery (because risk of transmission is highest during normal delivery) instead of normal delivery and not to breast-feed baby.

FAQ 4: What body fluids can transmit HIV?

Blood, pre-cum, vaginal secretions, semen and breast milk contain high concentrations of human immune deficiency virus and can transmit the infection. There are also other body fluids such as saliva, urine, sweat etc. which contain human immune deficiency virus in very low concentration and do not usually (only very rarely) transmit HIV infection.

FAQ 5: Can normal contact and normal social activities transmit HIV?

A definite no. Normal contact and normal social activities such as shaking hands, hugging, skin-to-skin contact and sharing of towels do not transmit the virus. However, sharing of razors, toothbrush should not be done, as they have potential to transmit the HIV infection. Sharing of swimming pools, sharing of toilets, sharing of utensils and cutlery, coughing, and sneezing do not cause HIV transmission.

 

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