What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that spreads through sexual contact. Over a period of 5 to 10 years, after infection and if left untreated, HIV progresses to AIDS. The HIV attacks the immune system of our body, by targeting the CD4+ immune cells, thus, resulting in immuno-deficiency i.e. lowered immunity to common infections.Myths about HIV

Is HIV a fatal condition?

Certainly NOT. HIV is the name of a virus and not the disease. With early diagnosis and treatment, HIV can be easily managed and will never progress to AIDS.
People on regular ART who achieve undetectable viral loads live high quality, normal and long lives as like an uninfected individual.
If HIV is left untreated, then in about 5 to 10 years, the infected person can end with complications that are fatal. Same is true for most common and rampant chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension (high BP), thyroid disorders etc.

Does HIV spread through casual contact?

HIV does not spread through casual contact like hugging, touching kissing, shaking hands, using the same washroom, sharing utensils etc. Even spread through oral sex is very rare and possible only if there is an open sore in the mouth of a person and infected discharge enters through it.
The virus does not survive in water and thus, swimming or bathing with an infected person does not transmit the infection, neither does exposure to urine, sweat or tears cause any harm.

If I don’t have any symptoms of HIV, I don’t need to worry?

All STDs, especially HIV, can remain dormant in the body for a long time but can be transmitted to others easily during that time.
Hence, testing following a potential exposure is the best solution. Remember, almost all STIs can be cured or easily managed with early diagnosis.

If I or my partner are HIV positive, we can’t have healthy kids?

That’s not at all true. With the advancement of medicine especially in the field of HIV, conceiving and delivering a healthy (HIV negative) baby is very much possible. It only needs regular monitoring and proper medications under medical supervision through pregnancy and childbirth.

If my partner is HIV +ve, I will get it too?

Most certainly, not. If your partner is being treated for HIV and has an undetectable viral load i.e. the virus count is below detectable levels in the tests, HIV is very unlikely to spread to you.
Moreover, you can check for your eligibility for PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) with a doctor and use barrier protection.

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Dr Nidhi M Jhamb

Dr Nidhi is a homoeopathic physician by profession who believes in a holistic approach towards healing. She loves to solve Sudoku puzzles and relaxes by dancing her worries away. Her passion is to write medical content in very simple language that anyone can easily understand.

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