Despite many decades of education and public service announcements, many are still not completely aware of what causes HIV. There may be numerous reasons why the public still remains in the dark about the causes of this virus.
Generally, the way to educate people would be to simply make them aware of clear and concise sources of information that help explain what HIV is and what would be among the most common causes.
What Is HIV?
Prior to delving into what causes HIV, it is necessary to examine what exactly this virus is and what it does to the human body. HIV refers to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and it is the retrovirus that causes AIDS.
When the body is infected with HIV, the virus, if left untreated, will slowly damage the immune system. Eventually, the immune system will wear down and the body will not be able to fight off infections.
This is a direct result of the virus destroying the CD4+ cells.
There is no cure for HIV, but it is possible for drugs to greatly slow down the spread of HIV. This can forestall the eventual onset of AIDS which, in turn, helps prolong a person’s life.
HIV is contracted in very specific ways. Understanding this fact can help those wishing to avoid contracting it. Once you have a better understanding of what causes HIV, you gain insights into what to do to reduce numerous risks.
What Causes HIV: An Overview
The causes of HIV can be defined as those practices that places a person at risk of contracting HIV from another person. This is a critical point to mention. The activities that can cause HIV are actually activities that spread HIV from someone that carries the virus to someone that does not.
The activities alone do not create HIV and to assume they do means you would be prescribing to a very common and erroneous myth.
The Causes Of HIV
HIV is a blood born illness. So, it will have to travel in some way where blood and fluids such as semen or vaginal fluids are exchanged. That means the HIV positive blood or fluid must go from one person into the body of another person.
HIV dies rather quickly when exposed to air, but it will remain alive when it enters into the blood stream.
The public is most commonly aware of the fact HIV is spread by unprotected sexual contract. Anal sex comes with the greatest risk of spread the disease due to the ease of semen entering the blood stream due to tears in the anus.
Vaginal sex also brings for a risk. The person receiving anal and vaginal sex may be a higher risk than the active partner, but the active partner still is placed at risk. Wearing a condom during sex may reduce a great deal of risk for infection.
Lower risk exists for transmission via oral sex. Wearing a condom (male or female) and/or a dental dam can reduce a lot of the risk.
A greater understanding of safe sex has helped slow the spread of HIV through sexual contact. However, the disease is quite prevalent among IV drug users. Those that share heroin or other IV drugs via a needle will present an enormous risk of spreading HIV.
While it is true that HIV begins to die when it is exposed to air, the blood on the tip of the needle allows the virus to survive. As the needle is quickly transferred to another person, the virus remains strong enough to infect another person when the needle pierces the skin.
It is also possible for a mother to transfer HIV to a baby during birth. Mother’s milk can also transfer HIV to a baby as well.
A Cause Of HIV That Has Been Reduced
At one time, there was a serious risk of HIV infection due to blood transfusions and organ transplants. These risks have decreased significantly because the ability to screen blood and organs has been greatly improved.
This is not to say there is no risk, but the risk level is certainly lower than was the case 30 years ago.
Learning About HIV
Learning more about HIV contributes to understanding what causes HIV which, in turn, can help a person reduce activities that can cause HIV. Consider this the reason why it is so helpful to learn more about the disease and what to do to reduce the potential to contract it.