Infection with HIV

With an average of 700 new infections per year in the Netherlands, HIV ranks eighth on the list of most common STDs. HIV is a virus that can cause AIDS. AIDS is a serious and fatal disease. This virus was discovered in 1981 and since then millions of people have died from AIDS worldwide. Unlike most STDs, HIV cannot be cured. The virus can be transmitted through the blood and through contact with other bodily substances. HIV is extremely contagious!

What is HIV?

The abbreviation HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is not the same as AIDS, as many people think. HIV causes AIDS, but is absolutely not the same. HIV can be transmitted through blood and sexual contact. People who have become infected with the virus are also called seropositive. You cannot tell from someone whether he/she is HIV positive or not. It can also take years before serious complaints arise. Even if you do not yet have any complaints, you can still infect someone else with the virus! The virus breaks down the immune system, making your body very susceptible to all kinds of infections and certain types of cancer. HIV cannot be cured. There is, however, treatment with HIV inhibitors. This ensures that the HIV-infected person is less likely to develop AIDS. When an HIV-infected person suffers a lot from various infections (which the body should normally be resistant to), it is called AIDS.

What is AIDS?

AIDS is an abbreviation that stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. This actually means that your immune system no longer functions properly as a result of the disease. When someone is in good health, the body is able to fight all kinds of fungi, viruses and infections through the immune system. The immune system attacks the intruder and ensures that it disappears from the system. Someone with AIDS has an insufficiently functioning immune system and can no longer fight the various fungi, viruses and infections. From the moment the immune system is damaged to such an extent that serious complaints or certain symptoms occur, the doctor can determine that you have AIDS.

Modes of infection with HIV.

You can become infected with HIV in different ways. The virus can be found in the blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-cum, breast milk, urine, feces, saliva, sweat and tears. The concentration of the virus, and the risk of infection, is very different. Blood and semen contain a high concentration of the virus, making it very contagious. The concentration is much lower in vaginal fluid, breast milk and precum, but is still contagious. The concentration of the virus in urine, feces, saliva, sweat and tears is too low to infect (or become infected) someone. These bodily substances only pose a risk of infection if they clearly contain blood and can enter the other person’s bloodstream directly.
Many people become anxious when confronted with the disease. This is not necessary in the daily interaction with someone infected with AIDS.
You cannot become infected through normal skin contact if the skin is not damaged . If you do have a wound, a plaster is sufficient to prevent contamination or infection. You are also not at risk through French kissing, using the toilet, using the same cutlery or glass, a sneeze or a cough where you get splashes from an AIDS-infected person in the face. The concentration of the virus in the saliva is too low to infect and the virus does not continue to live in the open air and then infect someone. Contamination via first aid treatment in the correct (hygienic) manner, the use of the same sauna or swimming water, via insects or food and drinks is not possible.
You can become infected if you use a needle that has been used by an infected person. Unsafe sex also poses a high risk of infection. Blood-blood contact is very contagious in all cases, such as transfusions or an unsafe blood product. If a mother breastfeeds her baby while she is infected with HIV or has AIDS, there is a chance that she will infect her baby through breast milk.

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