Behaviors to Reduce the Risk of HIV Infection

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Behaviors to Reduce the Risk of HIV Infection The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the pathogen that destroys the body’s immune system allowing the development of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids). Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids) is a disorder of the human immune system in a person infected with HIV, characterized by severe breakdown of the immune system that leaves a person very susceptible to opportunistic infections. An opportunistic infection is an infection that would probably not have the opportunity to invade the body if a person’s immune system were healthy. HIV Infection Ø A virus is one of the smallest pathogens that can cause disease. Like other viruses, HIV cannot replicate by itself. However, when HIV enters a person’s body, it attaches to a part of the helper T cell, takes control of the helper T cell, and reproduces it’s genetic material in the helper T cell. The virus multiplies inside the helper T cell, causing an interruption in the signals for help in the form of antibodies. Ø The result of this is an unchecked spread of HIV and the eroding of the ability of the immune system to defend itself against other pathogens. Ø Most people have no symptoms when they are first infected. You must have a test to be sure you have HIV. Ø It could take as little as a few weeks to many years for any symptoms to appear. Ø Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, weight loss, tiredness, and enlarged lymph nodes. Transmission of HIV There are five ways of transmission of HIV. Ø Sexual Transmission: People who have open lesions and engage in sexual behavior are especially vulnerable to infection with HIV. The more sexual partners you have, the greater your risk. It can travel through a person’s · blood, · semen · vaginal secretions HIV can enter through · cuts · sores in the skin · moist lining of the vagina · moist lining of the penis The only way to completely avoid sexual transmission is to abstain from sexual intercourse or to engage in sexual intercourse only with an uninfected partner who is committed to a monogamous relationship. Latex condoms have been shown to help reduce the risk of transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Ø Needle Transmission: Sharing needles to inject intravenous drugs if the most dangerous form of needle sharing. Even the needles used for tattooing and piercing ears. Ø Mother-to-baby Transmission: If a female is infected before or during pregnancy, her child has about a one in three chance of being born with the HIV infection.

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