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Q.20 What did you learn and how can you play a role in fighting HIV ?
  • HIV affects our immune system. AIDS is the later stage of infection when different illnesses show up.
  • HIV generally goes unnoticed in initial years.
  • HIV spreads in four ways.
  • HIV does not spread through social contacts, mosquitoes working together or living together.
  • HIV testing is available in VCCTC in our nearest government hospital.
  • Even though AIDS is still incurable, there is treatment available to expand the life of infected person.
  • We learnt that people can live with HIV infection for years. They need care and support, not isolation.
  • We can play a role in prevention of HIV by sharing our information and providing our support to people living with HIV/AIDS.
Q.21 What is HIV ?
Ans. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. This virus is transmitted from one person to another through infected or blood products, using shared needles,unprotected sex with the infected person and from infected mother to her child. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast-feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Most of these people develop AIDS as a result of HIV infection. These body fluids have been proven to spread HIV:
- blood
- semen
- vaginal fluid
- breast milk
- Other body fluids containing blood.

Other additional body fluids that may transmit the virus that healthcare workers may come into contact with are:

- cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord
- synovial fluid surrounding bone joints
- Amniotic fluid surrounding a foetus.
Q.22 What is AIDS? What causes AIDS?
Ans. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. A positive HIV test result does not mean that a person has AIDS. A diagnosis of AIDS is made by a physician using certain clinical criteria (e.g. AIDS indicator illnesses). Infection with HIV can weaken the immune system to the point that it has difficulty fighting off certain infections. These type of infections are known as "opportunistic" infections because they take the opportunity a weakened immune system gives to cause illness. Many of the infections that cause problems or may be life-threatening for people with AIDS are usually controlled by a healthy immune system. The immune system of a person with AIDS is weakened to the point that medical intervention may be necessary to prevent or treat serious illness.
Q.23 Where did HIV come from?
Ans. Scientists have different theories about the origin of HIV, but none have been proven. The earliest known case of HIV was from a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man in Kinshasha, Democratic Republic of Congo. (How he became infected is not known.) Genetic analysis of this blood sample suggests that HIV-1 may have stemmed from a single virus in the late 1940s or early 1950s. We do know that the virus existed in the United States since at least the mid to late 1970s. From 1979-1981 rare type of pneumonia, cancer, and other illnesses were being reported by doctors in Los Angeles and New York among a number of gay male patients. These were conditions not usually found in people with healthy immune systems. In 1982 public health officials began to use the term "Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome," or AIDS, to describe the occurrences of opportunistic infections, Kaposi's sarcoma, and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in healthy men. Formal tracking (surveillance) of AIDS cases began that year in the United States. The cause of AIDS is a virus that scientists isolated in 1983. The virus was at first named HTLV-III/LAV (human T-cell lymphotropic virus-type III/lymphadenopathy-associated virus) by an international scientific committee. This name was later changed to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The inescapable conclusion of more than 15 years of scientific research is that people, if exposed to HIV through sexual contact or injecting drug use, may become infected with HIV. If they become infected, most of them will eventually develop AIDS.
Q.24 How long does it take for HIV to cause AIDS?
Ans. 10-12 years, after becoming infected. This time varies greatly from person to person and can depend on many factors, including a person's health status and their health-related behaviours. Today there are medical treatments that can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system. As with other diseases, early detection offers more options for treatment and preventative healthcare.
Q.25 Why is the AIDS epidemic considered so serious?
Ans. AIDS affects people primarily when they are most productive and leads to premature death thereby severely affecting the socio-economic structure of whole families, communities and countries. Besides, AIDS is not curable and since HIV is transmitted predominantly through ----with infested person and in our ------- surrounding sexual practices being essentially a private domain, these issues are difficult to address.