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What is HIV/AIDS: The Breakdown

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HIV/AIDS is one of those diseases that we throw around lightly in a conversation. But how much about it do we know? What exactly happens when you do have HIV/AIDS? And is HIV and AIDS the same thing? Why does it have two names?

Let’s find out!

1. Is HIV and AIDS the same thing?

Before we progress further into the topic, let’s clarify this first: No, HIV and AIDS is not the same thing. HIV is basically the virus that you can contract and if not taken care of properly, will eventually progress into AIDS. So, in short, you can’t have AIDS without first contracting HIV but you can have HIV without having AIDS.

2. What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus- a virus that attacked the immune system causing it to degenerate in time. When your immune system is at risk and cannot fend off infections on its own, naturally your body is exposed to various other diseases. When things get too serious, AIDS comes in to the picture as the last stage of HIV.

3. What is AIDS, then?

AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome- the last stage of HIV. Unlike HIV, AIDS is NOT a virus but a medical condition CAUSED by HIV. It is basically the patient’s most vulnerable point where the immune system is extremely weak and can be easily exposed to deadly sicknesses like cancer.

4. What happens when you do have HIV/AIDS?

HIV normally starts with flu- like symptoms but often times you can be infected and not have any symptoms at all. The danger with HIV is that you can pass it on immediately without even knowing that you have it in the first place. As the disease worsens, the symptoms can include fever, red rashes, swollen glands and even blurred vision. But by this stage, it is normally moving towards AIDS and can be extremely detrimental.

AIDS on the other hand can be confirmed when you experience a rapid weight loss, night sweats, sores of the mouth, anus or genitalia, neurological disorders and even cancer.

5. How do you contract/ transmit HIV/AIDS?

There have been many misconceptions on the transmission of HIV such as shaking hands, hugging, CPR, sharing cutleries and other casual physical contact but bear in mind that sharing these gestures with a HIV-positive person does NOT mean you will contract the virus.

HIV is normally transmitted through blood, semen or vaginal fluids. Basically, having unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive- anal, oral or vaginal- makes you susceptible to contracting the disease. Another way HIV is transmitted is through sharing of needles among drug users or blood transfusion. These activities may be recreational to some but never forget to take precautions and to be aware that these are life-changing risks that should be accounted for.

6. Is there a cure yet?

Unfortunately, there is still no solid cure to HIV/AIDS yet but a lot has progressed in finding a cure as of late. In the meantime, early detection of HIV can be controlled with certain medication and you can still lead a normal life. With proper care taken, it is not 100% that HIV will develop into AIDS but even if it does, it will take a good 10-15 years if the person is healthy.

HIV/AIDS is not as uncommon as you might think. Before you step into any activities that may expose you to contract this incurable and extremely hazardous condition, think twice and be wise with your decisions.

Image: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ by https://www.flickr.com/photos/ttfnrob/

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