Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a deadly infection, which can lead to Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is the last stage of HIV that results due to significant health damage caused to the immune system during the chronic stage of HIV infection. HIV is a condition that is related to the immune system, as the virus contributes to its weakening.
A weak immune response increases the vulnerability of the HIV-positive individual to a range of infections, diseases, and some types of cancers too. Contracting such a deadly disease shortens the lifespan and deteriorates the quality of life. This is why it is necessary to take precautionary measures to stay safeguarded and prevent the chances of getting infected with HIV.
Given below are the ways which increase the risk of contracting HIV. Avoiding the following behaviors will prevent the risk to a larger extent.
Risky sexual behaviors
Having unprotected sexual contact with multiple partners, especially anonymous partners, can potentiate an individual’s risk of contracting HIV. Those who engage in such risky sexual behaviors without using protection can get exposure to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that potentiate their risk of HIV.
It is necessary to avoid having sex with multiple partners and strangers because there is a high chance that a person you come across is sharing sexual intimacy with many others, which increases their likelihood of being HIV positive. Hence, you must strictly avoid getting into risky sexual activities, which increases your exposure to life-threatening infections.
Having unprotected sex
Body fluids are the carriers of the HIV virus, so, any contact with such fluids leads to the transmission of the virus. The virus gets transmitted through anal or vaginal sexual contact, as it spreads through the body fluids such as semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal discharge, blood, and rectal secretions. This usually happens during sexual activity with an HIV-infected person. Therefore, make sure you use protection, such as condoms, which will reduce the risk of the exchange of body fluids.
Mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy
The child of an HIV-positive mother is highly prone to the infection. The virus can come into contact with the fetus by entering the placenta. The chances of the fetus getting exposed to the virus increase when the amniotic sac in which it is contained within the mother’s womb breaks. This can cause the exposure of the mother’s body fluids to the child. To ensure safe delivery, the doctors recommend delivery via C-section in HIV-positive mothers. A delivery via surgical method prevents the child’s exposure to the mother’s blood and other body fluids.
Moreover, even after the birth of the child, HIV-positive mothers are not allowed to breastfeed their baby, as the virus can enter the baby via breast milk. The baby being born as an HIV-negative may acquire the deadly virus through breast milk, so, breastfeeding must be strictly avoided during such cases.
Sharing of drug injection equipment
The equipment used during injecting drug include needles, syringes, medication, and others. These things must never be shared with another person. Chances are that the person might be HIV-positive or have some other sexually transmitted disease (STD), which can get spread through the sharing of medical equipment.
An HIV-negative person must always check whether the equipment is completely new and sterile before getting any injections or procedures done. Any trace of body fluids of an HIV-positive on the medical equipment can be risky for a healthy person.
Get tested for HIV
If you are one of those individuals that engage in risky sexual behaviors such as having sexual contact with anonymous people, then you must consider getting an HIV test done. One might experience several flu-like symptoms, in case of contracting HIV. The symptoms usually appear during the first stage, when the virus is still in the phase of getting multiplied. As the infection progresses to the chronic stage, the viral load increases.
Getting tested and starting the treatment early will reduce the damage to the immune system. The treatment also reduces the risk of HIV transmission to a great extent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three types of tests available for indicating HIV. These are performed on body fluids such as blood, urine, and oral fluid.
The tests include:
the fluid sample test reveals the presence of antibodies to HIV in the body fluid. HIV-1 antibodies inhibit the replication and multiplication of HIV. So, the test looks at whether HIV-1 antibodies are released by the body after contracting HIV.
The blood sample is collected in the lab and tested for the presence of antigens and antibodies for HIV. The blood test can be performed by drawing from a vein or it can be done rapidly with a finger stick.
Nucleic acid test (NAT)
This type of test can reveal the results sooner. The healthcare provider will draw blood from a vein and the lab test will be done to check for the HIV viral load.