Despite the fact that the public has been well aware of HIV, there are still a great many myths and misconceptions that are prescribed to. Among the reasons for this there are quite a large segment of the population of only understand the problem from the perspective of knowing the facts in a cursory manner.
Explaining these facts in a more detailed and clearer manner may help with the ability to gain a better understanding of the disease.
HIV Infection Explained
An HIV infection is the presence of the human immunodeficiency virus. This type of virus is categorized as a lentivirus. That means it replicates in a slow moving manner. Eventually, the virus will lead to the onset of AIDS, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
As AIDS progresses, the ability for the body to fight off infections eventually becomes impossible. As grim as it sounds, the truth is AIDS is a fatal disease as these common infections will eventually lead to the death of the person suffering from it.
A Blood Born Infection
While HIV is a virus, it is not a virus as most people commonly understand the term. Specifically, most will think of a virus from the perspective of the flu which is an air born virus. HIV begins to die as soon as it is exposed to air.
In order for it to survive and infect someone else, there must be a blood to blood transfer. This can be done via unprotected sex, sharing IV needles or from mother to child in birth. At one time, blood transfusions presented a very high risk.
Today, screening processing make it much harder for HIV infected blood to be used in transfusions.
Who Is At Risk For HIV Infection?
There are certain groups that are at a very high risk for HIV infections. IV drug users might be the highest risk group. Men who have sex with other men are also very high risk. It would seem age plays a factor as males under the age of 30 seem to be at a higher risk level due to their lifestyle choices and a lack of safe sex practices.
The Common Misconceptions That Exist
There are quite a number of myths and misconceptions that exist surrounding HIV and AIDS. The most common misconception would be that HIV and AIDS are one in the same. This is incorrect as HIV is the condition that leads to AIDS.
It would also be inaccurate to state the progress of HIV to AIDS cannot be slowed down. The truth is there are drugs that can greatly slow down the progression of the HIV virus. These drugs can prevent the onset of AIDS for a number of years.
This is not to suggest there is a cure of any kind for HIV or AIDS. Slowing the progress of the disease down is not a cure. However, it can extend a person’s life expectancy significantly.
Likely, the greatest myth about HIV would be it can be spread via casual contact. This is among the most pervasive of myths. Once again, HIV is a blood born virus. That means only blood or body fluid transfers can spread the disease.
Yet, the original notion that HIV can be spread through contact is still prescribed to by scores of people.
Why Condoms Can Prevent The Spread Of AIDS
Questions may arise regarding why a condom can prevent the spread of HIV. It is critical to point out that condoms are not 100% effective. There is always a risk for failure and a risk for transmission.
This would be due to the condom breaking or being too porous among other issues. However, a condom offers a barrier that can block fluid to fluid transfer. This contributes to the reduction of the potential for HIV infections to increase.
Testing For HIV
HIV can be detecting through a blood test. Those that feel they may have been put at risk for HIV infection should have such a test perform. The results of the test are reliable. Regardless of the results of the test, it may be wise to have a second test performed just to be sure of the accuracy of the results.
Taking such extra steps certainly can eliminate the presence of any doubts.
Going To Reliable And Reputable Sources For Information
When wishing to learn about the facts related to HIV, it is critical to always go to sources that are reputable (for example aids.gov). Government offices such as the Center for Disease Control would be one example of a source offering reputable information.
By acquiring reliable information, an understanding about proper treatment and prevention can be gained.