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2: There are two strains of HIV
You probably knew that HIV originated in monkeys. But did you know that there are actually two types of HIV strains? Labelled as HIV 1 and HIV 2, these two strains have been found in chimpanzees and small African monkeys. HIV 1 is the more potent of the two strains and is what most commonly causes HIV infection. (Read: Living with HIV – diagnosis, treatment and prevention)
3: It takes almost 10 years for the onset of AIDS
Once a person is infected with HIV it takes at least 10 years for it to progress into AIDS. AIDS is the final or most severe stage of the disease when the immune system of the patient’s body has been compromised greatly.
4: It is not spread only by sexual contact
If you thought that HIV is spread only by sexual contact with infected individuals, you are mistaken. HIV is also spread by sharing needles, by being transfused by infected blood or by coming in contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person (semen, milk, fluids from the vagina etc.). Here it is important to remember that by contact it means that the fluid enters the body of the other person through either an open sore in the mouth or the anus or through the vagina. Here are 33 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about HIV.
5: The symptom of HIV/AIDS are very often missed
The symptoms of HIV/AIDS very often mimic the symptoms of other very common diseases like the common cold or flu. While a person infected with the virus may experience symptoms within 2-3 weeks of being infected it may take up to three months. There are also some people who may be absolutely asymptomatic. The common symptoms of the condition are fever, rash, chills, sore throat, rash, night sweats, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches and ulcers in the mouth.
6: The tests for HIV are simple
The test for HIV involves either testing your blood or your saliva for the presence of the antigen against HIV. The problem with this test was that it could not pick up the presence of the antigen you a patient’s body until he/she started producing antibodies to the virus, which usually takes about 12 weeks.  Recently a new test has been devised that tests for the presence of antibodies against the virus. This is far more accurate and one can get the test done as soon as they think they have been infected. All you have to do is go to a nearby testing center and check if you have been infected by giving a simple blood test. The test is not painful and is completed in about 10 minutes. Here’s everything you should know about HIV diagnosis — 5 tests to detect a recent HIV infection.
7: Anyone can get HIV
There is a common belief that HIV is a poor man’s disease, but today this stereotype is being broken. A large number of upper middle class and affluent people are infected with the virus and is not more confined to a class in society. The disease can infect the rich, poor, young, old man or woman.
8: You can’t get HIV by ingesting the blood of an infected person
Many people believe that if an HIV positive person cooks for them or somehow their blood is ingested they can contract the disease. This is not possible, because the HIV virus – for all the havoc it creates in our body – is extremely fragile and cannot survive outside a host. More importantly it is essential that blood containing the virus enter a person’s blood stream, this requires a deep injection directly into the blood vessels. Another fact to consider is the HIV virus cannot stand excessive heat. Even the heat generated by the sun damages it, so if one were to bleed into your food and cook it, you are highly unlikely to contract HIV. And finally everybody has a mucosal lining on the inside of our mouth and nose. So when we eat the HIV virus will not be able to infect a person.
9: HIV is not the end of your life, it is a manageable condition
In our post for last year’s Battle against AIDS we told you about how HIV need not be thought of as a death knell. It is a manageable condition that needs lifestyle changes and continuous medication. Stars like Magic Jonson have been living with the condition for over ten years. That being said WHO believes that poverty further alleviates the progression of the disease. That is because poor people are less likely to be able to access proper medical care. And even if they do their living conditions might not be optimal to avoiding infections. If you have HIV, ask your doctor about how you can be safe from contracting opportunistic infections. Read more about 12 diseases that affect people with HIV/AIDS.
10: A person living with HIV can have sex but with protection
Yes, it is true. Most people believe that once they have been infected they will never have sex again. A person can have sex but with protection. Since the places that the virus can easily spread is trough the vagina and anus, using a condom is the best option. Further partners can indulge in foreplay and oral sex for pleasure. In oral sex one must make sure that they do not have any open sores or lesions in their mouth while performing it; using a dental dam in such a situation is the best option. More importantly  it is essential that the partner of a HIV positive person know about his/her status before intercourse. This will help by making the person more aware about the precautions they have to take
11: A HIV positive person can have normal children
With the advances in medicine it is possible for an HIV positive parent to have a normal and uninfected child.  All the mother has to do is take the appropriate medication and advice during her pregnancy. The medication helps in preventing the crossing over of the virus from the mother to the baby. Therefore with the proper care an HIV positive person can have a perfectly healthy baby. (Read: Together we can end HIV/AIDS)
12. AIDS is caused by HIV.
AIDS is caused by HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, which damages the body’s defense system. People who have AIDS become weaker because their bodies lose the ability to fight all illnesses. They will eventually die if untreated. There is no cure for HIV, but treatment is available to reduce the symptoms so that even people with the virus can have healthy, productive lives.
13. HIV is transmitted through HIV-infected bodily fluids.
HIV is transmitted through the exchange of any HIV-infected bodily fluids. Transfer may occur during all stages of the infection/disease. The HIV virus is found in the following fluids: blood, semen (and pre-ejaculated fluid), vaginal secretions, breast milk.
14. HIV is most frequently transmitted sexually.
HIV is most frequently transmitted sexually. That is because fluids mix and the virus can be exchanged, especially where there are tears in vaginal or anal tissue, wounds or other sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). Girls are especially vulnerable to HIV infection because their vaginal membranes are thinner and more susceptible to infection than those of mature women.
15. People who have Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are at greater risk of being infected with HIV.
People who have STIs are at greater risk of being infected with HIV and of transmitting their infection to others. People with STIs should seek prompt treatment and avoid sexual intercourse or practice safer sex (non- penetrative sex or sex using a condom), and inform their partners.
16. The risk of sexual transmission of HIV can be reduced.
The risk of sexual transmission of HIV can be reduced if people do not have sex, if uninfected partners have sex only with each other or if people have safer sex — sex without penetration or using a condom. The only way to be completely sure to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV is by abstaining from all sexual contact.
17. People who inject themselves with drugs are at high risk of becoming infected with HIV.
HIV can also be transmitted when the skin is cut or pierced using an unsterilized needle, syringe, razorblade, knife or any other tool. People who inject themselves with drugs or have sex with drug users are at high risk of becoming infected with HIV.
18. Contact a health worker or an HIV/AIDS centre to receive counselling and testing.
Anyone who suspects that he or she might have been infected with HIV should contact a health worker or an HIV/AIDS centre in order to receive confidential counselling and testing. It is your right. (Article 24 of the Convention on the rights of the child).
19. HIV is not transmitted by everyday contact.
HIV is not transmitted by: hugging, shaking hands; casual, everyday contact; using swimming pools, toilet seats; sharing bed linens, eating utensils, food; mosquito and other insect bites; coughing, sneezing.
20. Everyone deserves compassion and support.
Discriminating against people who are infected with HIV or anyone thought to be at risk of infection violates individual human rights and endangers public health. Everyone infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS deserves compassion and support. (Article 2 of the Convention on the rights of the child).
21. The onset of AIDS can take up to ten years.
The onset of AIDS can take up to ten years from the time of infection with the HIV virus. Therefore a person infected with HIV may look and feel healthy for many years, but he or she can still transmit the virus to someone else. New medicines can help a person stay healthier for longer periods of time, but the person will still have HIV.