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AIDS

What you need to know about HIV and AIDS

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by Vicky Lumsden

What is AIDS?

The term AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Those four words effectively summarize what AIDS is. This disease is Acquired meaning people must become infected wiith it. It cannot be transmitted through the genes. The virus attackss the body's Immune sytem bringing about a state of Deficiency. This defficient Syndrome means the body is vulnerable to a wide range of diseases and infections. AIDS is caused by the virus called HIV.

there are 6000 newly diagnosed cased of HIV every year
What is HIV?

The term HIV stands for Human Immuno-Deficency Virus. The virus can only infect Human beings. The effecr of the virus is to create an Immuno-defieciey ie an deficeiny of the body's immune system. As a Virus, HIV is not capable of reproducing by itself. Instead it uses the humacn cells that make up our body.

How common is AIDS?

There are approximaetlt 55000 people in the UK living with HIV with roughly 6000 newly diagnsed cases each year. There are less than one thousand yearly reported cases of AIDS and fewer than 500 confrimed deaths.

How is HIV transmitted?

For HIV to be transmitted an indivual must come into contact with the following bodily fluids of an infected person:

- blood
- semen
- vaginal secretions
- pre-semial fluid (pre-cum)
- breast milk

Such fluids are transmitted through the following sexual activites:

- penis to vagina intercourse: this is classed as a high risk activity, meaning there is a strong chance of infection
- anal sex: this is also classed as a high risk activity carrying a strong chance of becoming infected
- oral sex: this is classed as a low risk activty, meaning there is a possibilty of infection but much less so than anal or vaginal sex

It is worth remebering that such activities with an infected person do not guanatee transmission of the virus. Suffiecnt levels of the virus have to be passed into the non-infected person. Where as a small amount of blood may be enough to infect someone, much larger quanitieis of other fuilds would be needed for transmission. Regardless of the type of fluid or the concetnrtaion of the virus it conatins, transioons can still only occur if the fluid enters the bloodstream of the non effected person. Healthy unborken skin does not allow HIV to get through. However, the virus can reach the bloodstream through an open wound or through the anus, eyes, mouth and geneitals.

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