What is HIV? What is Human Immunodeficiency Virus?

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HIV stands for the human immunodeficiency virus:

H : Human being. This virus infects humans. I : Immunodeficiency. This virus attack on an individual’s immune system. Immune system is the human body’s defense against infection, like viruses and bacteria. When attacked by HIV, immune system will become deficient and does not work effectively. V : Virus. The virus is a kind of germs very small to be viewed even with the microscope. HIV is like other viruses, like those who causes the flu or common cold. But it has an important difference with time, our immune system can clear most viruses out of our body. It’s not the case with HIV the human immune system aren’t seem to get rid of this. Which means that after you have HIV, you will have it for lifetime.

What does the HIV virus do?

All the viruses infect living cells to reproduce. HIV gets control certain immune system cells which are likely to defend our bodies. These cells are known as CD4 cells, or T cells. If HIV takes over the CD4 cell, it transforms the cell to a virus factory. It makes the cell to generate 1000s of copies of the virus. All these copies infect other CD4 cells. Infected cells don not work effectively and die earlier. With time, the losing of CD4 cells weakens immune system, which makes it difficult for the body to keep healthy.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV can be found in the body liquids of the infected individual, which include semen, vaginal and anal fluids, our blood and breast milk. This is a fragile virus and does not live long outside of the body.

HIV can’t be transmitted through ones sweat or urine.

The one most common way of getting HIV in the UK is having anal or vaginal sex without a condom. According to figures from the Health Protection Agency, 95% of the people diagnosed with HIV in the UK in 2011 obtained HIV due to sexual contact.

Some other ways of getting HIV includes:

  • by using a infected needle, syringe or some other injecting equipment
  • tranmission through mother to child in pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding
  • via oral sex or sharing sex toys

HIV cannot be transmitted by:

  • Cough
  • Hug
  • Kiss
  • Sneezing
  • Spitting
  • Crying
  • Sharing Cutlery and crockery
  • Toilets and Showers
  • Mosquitoes

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