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1. What is HIV?
HIV stands for: Human Immunodeficiency Virus

2. How does HIV weaken the body’s immune (defence) system?
HIV destroys certain white blood corpuscles (the T-helper cells, also called T-4 cells), which are part of the body’s defence system.  The body is then open to attack from infections or cancers, it would otherwise be able to resist. These are called opportunistic infections

3. Where is HIV to be found?

All body fluids contain the HIV virus. However blood, semen, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), vaginal and cervical secretions contain a high concentration of these viruses. An HIV infected person becomes an HIV carrier and infects healthy persons.

4. When are body fluids and secretions likely to transmit HIV?

The virus is present in them. There is a transfer of these body fluids from an infected person to another person through sex, blood transfusion, infected syringes, infected sharp cutting instruments, and mother to child

5. How long can HIV live outside the human body?
The HIV is very fragile. If outside the body in a dry form, it dies immediately. Even when in a wet form, it can live for a few hours only. However, it cannot survive heat and detergents

6. How is HIV spread from person to person?

HIV is spread when the blood, semen or vaginal fluids of an infected person come in contact with the blood or mucous membranes of a healthy uninfected person. This occurs during:

  • Sexual intercourse (homosexual or heterosexual) with an HIV infected individual Sexual intercourse can involve the mouth (oral sex), anus (anal sex) or the vagina (vaginal sex) – SEXUAL TRANSMISSION.
  • Transfusion of infected blood and blood products, and sharing contaminated needles and syringes - by IV drug users
Trough Mother to Child in either in the Womb, or during Delivery, or after birth through Breast Feeding

7. Does every person infected with HIV get AIDS?

As far as we know today everyone who has HIV will go on to develop the Condition of AIDS early or late depending on:

  • A person’s attitude and determination to fight the virus.
  • How the person got infected. (A blood transfusion is more potentially infective than the sexual route though the latter is more common)
  • Poor nourishment and health status of the individual. (An HIV positive person who chronically ill will be more likely to develop AIDS earlier.
Prompt health seeking behaviour and high protein diet will delay the symptomatic state of AIDS.

8. Can a person become infected with HIV during a blood test?
Yes. Only if the instruments used are not sterile and were infected.

9. Can a person become infected with HIV through a dental intervention?

Yes. Only if the instruments used are not sterile.

10. Is the menstrual blood of an HIV-positive woman infective?

11. Can the breast milk of an HIV infected woman transmit (spread) the virus?

HIV is present to some extent in the breast milk of an HIV positive woman.

Yet because breast-feeding has many advantages for the infant’s health that outweigh the disadvantages of a possible HIV infection breast feeding is recommended by WHO

12. Can a doctor or a nurse get HIV?

13. Can kissing transmit (spread) HIV?

No. The saliva (spit) of an HIV-Positive person contains very few virus particles and is weakly infective. Even mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and deep kissing (wet kissing or French kissing) are not dangerous. Theoretically, the risk of transmission increases if there are ulcers or bleeding gums. The instruction here would be, 'Avoid kissing only if you have any kind of open sore or wound inside or around your mouth.

14. Can oral sex transmit (spread) HIV?

Yes, if the blood, semen, or vaginal fluid of an infected person come in contact with the bleeding gums or mouth sores of the other person during oral sex

15. Can a person get HIV through masturbation?

NO. If a boy or a girl, or a grown man or woman, is stimulating his or her own genital organs he or she is perfectly safe from getting HIV. Also, if partners stimulate each other with their hands they are not exposed to the HIV virus, if there are no open cuts.

16. How does HIV spread among homosexuals?

When homosexual activity with an HIV infected person involves penetration, the HIV may be spread. A common homosexual activity is intercourse. Penetrative anal intercourse is especially dangerous because the lining of the rectum is more delicate than that of the vagina and hence tears more easily.

17. Are people who have sex with more than one person at greater risk of HIV infection?
Yes, not only are such people at greater risk of HIV infection, they also face the risk of getting STIs infection. So also, STDs infected persons are at much greater risk of getting HIV infection

18. Who is more likely to get affected a man or a woman?
Women are at greater risk of HIV infection than men because semen contains larger concentrations of HIV than do vaginal fluids, and semen stays for a longer time in the vagina.

19. What are the different HIV tests?

HIV tests are

  • Rapid test (Screening test)
  • ELISA (ELISA also known as MEIA test)
  • Western Blot
  • PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction
20. Can I make out a person who is HIV infected?
No. The only sure way to know if a person has been infected with HIV is to conduct an HIV test three months after any risk behaviour by the person.

21. What does being HIV positive mean?

This means that the man / woman is infected with HIV. Being HIV positive means that the person has developed antibodies prepared by his / her body against the virus.

22. Where does a person get tested for HIV?

A person can get tested for HIV at any medical centre that provides these facilities Testing should be carried out by trained medical and paramedical staff, and the person should receive counselling both before and after the test. These facilities are available in all Government Hospitals in India free of cost.

23. How would one know if a baby born to an HIV infected mother is infected?

By testing the baby after 18 months of being born. A baby born to an HIV+ve mother will have the benefit of the ARV given to the mother in the last trimester of her pregnancy. The child is given ART within 72 hours of being born and continuously as long as it is breastfed.

24. Do mosquitoes spread HIV?


25. Can HIV enter the body through food or use of household articles

26. Can ear piercing spread HIV?

Ear piercing can only spread HIV if the needle or wire that is used for the piercing is contaminated, so the risk of transmission is low. Everyone has the right to insist that the needle or the wire being used is sterilised before actual use.

27. Can tattooing spread HIV?

Tattooing can only spread HIV if the instruments used are contaminated with HIV infected blood, but the risk of transmission is low. Everyone has the right to insist that the instruments being used are sterilized before the actual use.

28. How can the habit of injecting drugs spread HIV?

Injecting drugs into one’s body does not spread HIV, though by itself this is a dangerous habit. However, many drug users often share their syringes and needles without sterilising them in between use. This can transmit HIV from an infected person to others..

29. How is HIV not transmitted?

HIV cannot be spread through casual contact a such as touching, holding hands, body contact in crowded public places, playing or working together, sharing food or vessels, clothes towels and toilets.

30. How long will an HIV-positive child live?

HIV affects children much faster than adults because they are small and they develop AIDS earlier than adults. If a child is born with HIV infection then it would not probably survive beyond 5 years without anti retroviral treatment.

31. Is there a cure or vaccine for HIV?

No, so far, scientists have not had much success in developing a vaccine against HIV.  It may take some years before they are successful.

Many drugs have been developed however, which can arrest (slow down) the progress of infection.

32. If an HIV-positive person were to get a complete transfusion with fresh, uninfected blood would
     she/he be cured?

33. Why is HIV infection so dangerous?
  • Once a person is infected with HIV, there is no treatment to free him from HIV-infection. There is at present no cure for HIV.
  • The HIV-positive person is often unaware of being infected and is likely to spread this infection to other people.

34. What is AIDS?

ACQUIRED : Not hereditary, that is not inherited by a person through the genes of his or her parents.
IMMUNO : The body’s defence against diseases.
SYNDROME : A state characterized by a number of symptoms occurring together (simultaneously).

35. Why do we need to know about HIV / AIDS?

We need to know about HIV/AIDS because:

  • HIV can affect anyone, male, female or child
  • HIV virus that causes AIDS can be transmitted without the person knowing about it.
  • It is fatal and has no cure as yet
  • Ignorance about the modes of transmission causes fear, anxiety and prejudice

36. Why do we speak of an AIDS pandemic?

The use of term ‘epidemic’ when a disease affects many people in a particular place at the same time. However, HIV recognizes no boundaries and HIV / AIDS has spread all over the world. So we call it a ‘pandemic’ situation.

37. What is AIDS caused by?

HIV- a virus- causes AIDS.

38. Can an animal get AIDS?
NO. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus cannot infect Animals

39. What are the signs and symptoms of AIDS?

After the HIV enters the person’s body, the person may show no signs and symptoms for 5 to 10 years. As the person’s immune system starts failing, signs and symptomatic state of HIV develop. This state is called AIDS and the some of the symptoms of this can be:

  • Weight loss greater than 10 percent of body weight;
  • Fever for longer than one month;
  • Diarrhoea for longer than one month (on and off or all the time);
  • Persistent and severe fatigue
  • Lymph nodes get enlarged,
Oral thrush (fungal infection) in the mouth or Vagina

40. I have fever, chronic diarrhoea, and headaches and have lost much weight recently. Do I have AIDS?
There are many different causes for fever, headache, diarrhoea and weight loss, so there is no cause to worry. However, if you have had unprotected sex with many people or with a person who has had many sexual partners, or if you have shared needles when injecting yourself with drugs, it is advisable to go to a recognized testing centre, and get yourself tested for HIV

41. What are opportunistic infections?

Opportunistic infections are those infections that affect the body when the HIV infection has reduced the number of T-helper cells. They include Kaposi’s sarcoma (or skin cancer), herpes zoster and Pneumocystitis Carinii Pneumonia (PCP) among other usually rare diseases.

42. How long would a person who has died of AIDS be able to infect others?

Theoretically HIV can stay alive in a dead body for 30-40 days provided the body is placed in an air-conditioned morgue. HIV has been known to live for more than a week in the bodies ’ of  individuals who have died of AIDS and who are immediately put into cold storage. So, much care and universal precautions need to be taken regarding the disposal of dead bodies.



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