Transmission: Vaginal, oral and especially anal sex; infected blood or blood products; sharing drug needles with an infected person; and from infected mother to infant in utero, during birth, or while breastfeeding.
Symptoms: Some people experience no symptoms when first infected. Others have flu-like symptoms including fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue and enlarged lymph nodes. The symptoms usually disappear within a week to a month, and the virus can remain dormant for years. However, it continues to weaken the immune system, leaving the individual increasingly unable to fight opportunistic infections.
Treatment: There is no known cure. Antiviral drugs are used to prolong the life and health of the infected person. Other treatments are used to combat opportunistic infections.
Impact on Infected Person: Virtually everyone who becomes infected with HIV will eventually develop AIDS and die of AIDS-related complications.
Impact on Fetus or Newborn: 20 - 30% of infants born to infected mothers are HIV infected and develop symptoms of AIDS within one year after birth. Of these babies, 20% die by the time they are 18 months old. Anti-viral drugs given during pregnancy can greatly reduce the risk to the fetus of contracting HIV.
Preventive Measures: Abstaining from sex with an infected person, especially anal sex, where body fluids, blood, semen or vaginal secretions are likely to be exchanged, is the only 100% effective means of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV. Latex condoms can reduce but not eliminate the risk of contracting the disease during sex. Avoid illicit IV drug use and sharing drug needles. Discuss with health care providers precautions that are taken to avoid transmission of HIV, especially when receiving blood products or blood transfusion.
**This web site's goal is to provide you with information that may be useful in attaining optimal health. Nothing in it is meant as a prescription or as medical advice. You should check with your physician before implementing any changes in your exercise or lifestyle habits, especially if you have physical problems or are taking medications of any kind.