Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a disease that damages the body’s immune system by attacking the cells that are responsible for fighting infections. By weakening the immune system response, the disease increases the body’s vulnerability to other infections and diseases.
Individuals living with HIV need to be highly careful and must get treatment, which will help them in managing the condition and prevent it from getting transmitted to others. Without the treatment, the individual may not survive for long.
Lack of proper treatment in time increases the levels of the virus in the blood, which can easily spread to others. In this blog, we shall see the several ways in which HIV passes from one person to another. Given below are ways in which the virus gets potentially transmitted.
Unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners
Having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person is extremely risky. Sexual activity involves the contact of body fluids such as semen, vaginal secretions, and rectal secretions. As the virus gets transmitted through body fluids like semen, vaginal secretions, rectal secretions, blood, and urine, sexual contact will lead to the transmission of HIV.
During penetrative sexual contact involving vaginal or anal sex, it is necessary to use protection such as a condom, which will prevent the exchange of body fluids. The virus enters the body through the rectum, tip of the penile (urethra), and vagina. Engaging in safe sex practices will reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
Indulging in risky sexual behaviors and having multiple sexual partners will increase the chances of contracting HIV. So, avoid getting involved sexually with multiple partners and always use protection while having sex.
Sharing of medical equipment with others
The risk of contracting HIV increases when you share your medical equipment such as syringes, needles, injections, water, etc. with someone who is HIV positive. In addition, never share your drugs, hormones, steroids, etc. with anyone. Chances are that medical equipment may carry blood stains of someone else having HIV.
Sharing of medical equipment also potentiates the risk of other infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or others. Therefore, be careful while using such equipment, there is a necessity to prioritize hygiene and medical safety.
HIV-positive individuals must never become a blood donors. Even if the individual has contracted HIV, it is not detectable for a few months during the initial stages. Several blood screening tests will reveal whether the blood is free from HIV. The test involves the detection of antibodies and antigens in the blood. This will help in ensuring transfusion safety.
HIV-positive females may transfer the disease to their developing baby during the prenatal stage. There is a possibility that the virus can enter through the placenta. This mother-to-baby transmission of HIV can be prevented by treatments and medications. Early detection of HIV is necessary, as it will help in starting the course of treatment at the right time, which will reduce the baby’s risk of contracting HIV during the prenatal stage.
Moreover, the virus can also get transmitted to the baby via breast milk and during delivery. The virus can enter the baby’s body through breast milk, which is why HIV-positive mothers are not allowed to breastfeed their babies.
Also, during delivery, the baby might get exposed to the mother’s blood, which is HIV-positive. This leads to the transmission of HIV to the baby. Hence, there is a need for utter care during childbirth. The doctor may recommend delivery via C-section, which ensures the safety of the baby.
Although the risk of getting HIV through oral sex is quite low but not zero. Oral sex involves stimulating the genitals with the mouth. Either of the people involved can have sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), mouth ulcers, genital sores, or bleeding gums, which potentiates the risk of HIV transmission to the other partner.
Ways to prevent HIV transmission
- Abstain from risky sexual behaviors, such as having multiple partners, and indulging in unprotected sex. Always use protection (condoms) in case of multiple sexual connections and avoid having multiple sexual partners.
- Get treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which will reduce the risk of contracting HIV. Getting the proper diagnosis early will prevent health damage to self and others.
- Prioritize hygiene and medical safety. Do not share your medical equipment with another person. There is a possibility that the other person might be HIV positive, and sharing your medical equipment like syringes, drugs, hormones, injections, etc. will increase your risk of contracting HIV.
- Before you involve yourself in sexual activity, it is necessary to talk to your partner about getting an HIV test for both, which will eliminate your risk of HIV infection.
- In case an individual is diagnosed with HIV, they must follow their doctor’s guidelines strictly. Getting proper treatments and taking all the medications without failing will help in slowing down the viral damage. Adopting safety measures will ensure the safety of the partner and relatives too. For more information, one must talk to their doctor and follow their instructions carefully.
If the person avoids treatment after contracting HIV, then their life becomes short, and they cannot survive beyond 2 to 15 years. It depends on how fast they get to the third stage, which is AIDS. The final stage is AIDS, which leads to complete damage to the immune system.
At this stage, the likelihood of the disease getting spread to others is very high. However, one can prevent all this and live a good life by getting the treatment at the right time, this will help them in managing their condition and prevent disease transmission.