HIV is an immune system wrecker. It is a virus that focuses on causing harm and damage to a human being’s immune system, resulting in that human being’s inability to fight off other infections and illnesses. A person who is infected with HIV is very susceptible to contracting other diseases, thus making him or her weaker and sicker as time goes on.

In order for people to protect themselves from acquiring HIV, it is necessary to know what HIV is, how it is transmitted, what its symptoms are, how it can be treated, and much more.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV can be transmitted through the following:

  • Having unprotected sexual intercourse with someone who is infected with HIV
  • Sharing used needles, syringes, or injections with someone who is infected with HIV
  • Having blood transfusions with blood coming from an HIV-infected person
  • From an HIV-infected pregnant woman to her child (HIV can be transmitted while the baby is still in the uterus, upon childbirth, or through breastfeeding)

How is HIV not transmitted?

Over the years, there have been a lot of myths about how people can get HIV. Here are the most common myths about HIV transmission:

  • Hugging
  • Coughing
  • Kissing
  • Insect or mosquito bites
  • Sharing utensils or food with an HIV-infected person

What are the early symptoms of HIV?

People who get infected with HIV do not manifest symptoms immediately. HIV symptoms only start to show after about a month since first exposure to the virus. The following are some common early HIB symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Appetite loss
  • Fever
  • Joint pains
  • Muscle pains
  • Swelling of the glands

What are the later symptoms of HIV?

The later symptoms of HIV manifest after several years since first exposure to the virus. These symptoms are indications of how weak the immune system has become. They are the following:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating at night
  • Memory loss
  • Bacterial or fungal infections
  • Mouth lesions
  • Frequent fevers
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Oral infections

How is HIV diagnosed?

HIV can be diagnosed by undergoing an HIV test. There are several methods to test for HIV and you can consult your doctor which HIV testing method is most suited for you. ELISA test and Western Blot test are just two of the most widely used HIV tests in the world today.

Alternatively, people can use home HIV test kits that are available over the counter, in STD clinics, or from online stores.