HIV

HIV is a virus that breaks down the human immune system. HIV can be effectively treated, and the sooner you receive treatment after contracting it, the better. Without treatment with medication, a person eventually gets AIDS, which can be fatal.

HIV is the virus that breaks down a person’s immune system and can cause AIDS. The virus is present in blood, semen and pre-cum, vaginal discharge and breast milk. AIDS is referred to when the immune system is no longer able to defend against viruses and bacteria that it would normally be able to deal with. You can get HIV through fucking without a condom. The risk is higher with anal sex. Oral sex and cunnilingus also involve a small risk. If the mucus membranes are damaged, the chance of transmission is also higher. You can also get HIV through contact with infected blood, through drug use, infected needles or a blood transfusion for example. Mothers can pass on HIV to their babies.

The symptoms:

  • If you have just been infected, you can get symptoms that seem like flu: fever, total depression or a rash
  • Advanced HIV infection: fatigue, weight loss, fever, night sweats, diarrhoea, shortness of breath, a rash

Have I got it?

The only way to be certain whether you have HIV is to have an HIV test. If you belong to a key population and have unprotected sex, it is wise to get tested regularly. Flu-like symptoms can occur one to six week after contracting HIV. These can last for one to six weeks and can be an incentive to get tested. Discuss this with your doctor.

Treatment

HIV remains in the body forever. It can be suppressed with antiretrovirals. Combination therapy involves taking three antiretrovirals a day. There are combination pills containing several antiretrovirals which make treatment easier. It is important to take the pill (or pills) on time. Someone with HIV remains under the supervision of an HIV treatment provider. Antiretrovirals can have side effects. One patient can have more problems with this than another. Fast commencement of treatment has major benefits: you remain healthier and have a lot less chance of passing on the virus to someone else.

More information about treatment

Advice

  • Go to a doctor for an HIV test
  • If you have had unprotected sex, have an STI test. Someone with HIV is at greater risk of another STI. A person with another STI also has a greater chance of getting HIV
  • Have another HIV test three months after your last risk
  • If you have just run the risk of HIV, start taking antiretrovirals as soon as possible (within 72 hours), so-called PEP treatment
  • If you have HIV, quickly make an appointment with an HIV treatment provider: the sooner you start treatment with antiretrovirals the better
  • Notify your sexual partners since your last HIV-negative result. If you find that difficult, discuss it with the doctor or nurse
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