Tag Archives: sexually transmitted disease

Frequently Asked Questions About AIDS (Part 2)

AIDS is a life-threatening devastating condition that has claimed nearly 35 million lives worldwide since the first outbreak decades ago. Luckily, because of medical advancements, the prognosis for people with HIV and AIDS is much better than ever before. We looked at what AIDS is and how it can be spread in Part 1, now for prevention and screening:

Can AIDS be prevented? 

The only sure-fire way to prevent contracting the HIV virus is to either abstain from high-risk behaviors such as vaginal or anal intercourse with partners of unknown status or using any type of needle that isn’t given under medical supervision. Aside from abstinence, you can drastically reduce your chances by only have sex one monogamous partner who has been tested negative for HIV as well as using a condom or dental dam for all of your sexual encounters. The CDC recommends people in the high-risk category for HIV take PrEP.

What is PrEP?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis is when a high-risk person takes daily antiretroviral HIV medicines daily to help prevent contracting the disease. It is a relatively new and effective preventative measure against the HIV infection. PrEP can actually stop HIV from successfully infiltrating the body if it is taken as prescribed.

Who Should Consider Taking PrEP?

The CDC recommends that people who engage in ‘risky behaviors’ that fall into the following high-HIV-risk categories take PrEP to help prevent HIV infection:

  • HIV-negative people who are in sexual relationships with an HIV positive partner.
  • A gay or bisexual man who has had intercourse without a condom or been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months.
  • Heterosexual people who don’t regularly use condoms during relations with partners of unknown HIV status.
  • People who have sex with other high-risk partners (such as those who inject drugs or women with bisexual male partners).
  • People who have injected drugs in the last 6 months or shared needles.
  • If you are considering becoming pregnant with a partner who is HIV positive PrEP can help protect you and your unborn child.

If you are HIV positive it is your legal and ethical responsibility to disclose your HIV status to any potential sexual partners. If you need help on how to start that tricky conversation, check out the CDC’s HIV resources.

Who Should Get Screened for HIV?

Everyone who has sexual partners of unknown HIV status or is sexually active but not in a committed monogamous relationship with a known HIV-negative person should get screened for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases regularly as 1 in every 8 HIV-positive people don’t even know they are infected. The CDC has extensive screening guidelines on their website including how often people at different risk levels for HIV should be tested.

That concludes our look at HIV/AIDS prevention and screening, thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any medical questions, our board-certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365 to assist you.

Frequently Asked Questions about AIDS (Part 1)

HIV/AIDS has caused over 35 million deaths globally since the virus first surfaced. The CDC estimates about 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV/AIDS, and what’s more is that 1 out of 8 of those infected don’t even know it. Because of this, AIDS awareness and screening is vitally important.

What is AIDS?

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the final and most serious stage of HIV infection. When a person contracts the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from another person or a contaminated needle it begins attacking the immune system’s CD4+ cells which renders the body unable to fight off infections. This can open up the person to many dangerous opportunistic infections and diseases (like cancer), which usually happens when AIDS sets in.

How Many HIV Positive People Develop AIDS?

Approximately 50% of those infected with HIV develop AIDS within 10 years. About 75% of HIV-positive people will develop AIDS before the 15-year mark of contracting HIV hits. There is a small percentage of HIV patients who manage to avoid steady immune system decline and can keep HIV in the early and moderate stages for much of their lives.

What is the Prognosis for AIDS?

While there have been excellent advancements in AIDS treatment and medications, there is still no cure so without treatment, AIDS is fatal. However, treatments like antiretroviral medications slow the progression of the disease, allowing AIDS patients to live a much longer and healthier life than ever before. 30 years ago, nearly everyone who contracted HIV/AIDS would be deceased within 5 years.

Does HIV/AIDS have symptoms?

Most people don’t experience symptoms early in the disease, however they may experience more cold symptoms than usual or a sore throat that isn’t attributed to anything else and doesn’t seem to go away. As the disease progresses, a person may experience such symptoms and complications as:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Chronic cough
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Recurrent infections or colds

How is HIV Transmitted?

HIV cannot be contracted by giving an infected person a hug or handshake, or even sharing a drink. HIV can only be transmitted when any of an infected person’s bodily fluids aside from saliva,  (blood, semen, rectal or vaginal fluids or breast milk) comes in contact with:

  • a mucous membrane (found in the rectum, vagina, penis and mouth)
  • an open cut
  • the bloodstream

This can happen during any type of unprotected sex (rarely via oral sex, but it is possible), a blood transfusion, tattoo or injection with an HIV contaminated needle, or it can be passed from the mother to a baby during the birthing process. Very rarely transmission has occurred when an HIV-positive parent with a mouth sore has pre-chewed food for their baby or when an HIV-positive person and an HIV-negative person have engaged in deep kissing where one or both partners have open sores, from being bitten by an HIV-positive person or from skin-to-skin contact where open wounds from both the infected and non-infected person touch.

That concludes part 1, but keep an eye out for Part 2 to find out about prevention and screening next! Thanks for visiting DocChat!