What is HIV/AIDS?

Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is spread primarily by unprotected sexual intercourse, contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.

5 Facts You Should Know

  • Where it Came from
    There are two strains of HIV; HIV-1 (which has been traced back to chimpanzees), and HIV-2 (which came from a small African monkey).
  • Earliest Cases
    The earliest confirmed case of AIDS in humans comes from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was identified from a preserved tissue sample from 1959.
  • Camouflage
    HIV/AIDS is so much more frightening than other diseases due to its ability to bypass the immune system and then destroy it. When the virus enters the system, it is cloaked in carbohydrate sugar molecules that cling to its surface, “fooling” our bodies into thinking the virus is a nutrient.
  • Immunity
    Scientists have discovered at least two different adaptations, one which repels the infection in the first place and another which keeps HIV from developing into AIDS. The former is a genetic mutation found primarily in Scandinavians.
  • Search for a Cure
    Early detection is still the key factor in living a long life after contracting HIV. It would seem that any cure for the virus is still a long way off.
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Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Severe Fatigue
  • A non-itchy rash
  • Swollen glands/lymph nodes
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Night sweats
  • Sores or ulcers in your mouth
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Cause

  • Vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner whose blood, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body
  • From blood transfusions
  • Sharing infected needles
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Testing Blood samples are the most common screening method for detecting the presence of HIV antibodies. A test that returns a positive result is confirmed with a follow-up test such as the Western blot before the client is informed of the results.
Things to remember
  • Certain strains of HPV can lead to cervical cancer in women
  • If you’re pregnant and have an HPV infection with genital warts, the warts might enlarge and multiply during pregnancy