HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infects cells of the immune system
Infection results in the progressive deterioration of the immune system, breaking down the body’s ability to fend off some infections and other diseases. AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome) refers to the most advanced stages of HIV infection, defined by the occurrence of any of more than 20 opportunistic infections or related cancers.
HIV can be transmitted in several ways
HIV can be transmitted through:
- Unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal) or oral sex with an infected person
- Transfusions of contaminated blood.
- sharing of contaminated needles, syringes, drug works or other sharp instruments
- The transmission between a mother and her baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding
- 35 million people are living with HIV worldwide.
- Globally, an estimated 35.0 million [33.2–37.2 million] people were living with HIV in 2013, and 3.2 million [2.9–3.5 million] of these were children. The vast majority of people living with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries. An estimated 2.1 million [1.9–2.4 million] people were newly infected with the virus in 2013.
- HIV is the world’s leading infectious killer.
- An estimated 39 million people have died from AIDS-related causes so far, including 1.5 million [1.4–1.7 million] in 2013.
There are several ways to prevent HIV transmission
Key ways to prevent HIV transmission:
- Practice safer sexual behaviors such as using condoms.
- Get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
- Avoid injecting drugs, or if you do, always use new and disposable needles and syringes.
- Ensure that any blood or blood products that you might need are tested for HIV.
- Combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) prevents the HIV virus from multiplying in the body
- If the reproduction of the HIV virus stops, then the body’s immune cells are able to live longer and provide the body with protection from infections. If the HIV positive partner in a couple is on ART, the likelihood of sexual transmission to the HIV-negative partner decreases dramatically by 96%.
- Mother-to-child-transmission of HIV is almost entirely avoidable