SOME INFORMATION ON HIV / AIDS
Are HIV and AIDS?
Does HIV Transmission Happen
of Condoms and How to Use Them
is HIV Transmitted By Infected Blood?
What are HIV and AIDS
HIV is a virus. Illnesses caused by a virus
cannot be cured by antibiotics. (Although medicines
may help to reduce the symptoms). People who
have a virus - such as a cold- usually get better
after a few days or weeks because the white
blood cells of the immune system - which are
responsible for fighting diseases - successfully
overcomes them. When a person is infected with
HIV the immune system tries to fight off the
virus and does make some antibodies, but these
antibodies are not able to defeat HIV.
people do not feel ill at all when they are
first HIV infected. They may have no symptoms
for a long time. They have not yet got AIDS.
HIV acts by gradually destroying the immune
system of the infected person. After about 5
to 10 years (although much earlier in some cases)
the immune system becomes so weak that it cannot
fight off infections as it used to. Eventually
the infected person may lose weight and become
ill with diseases like persistent severe diarrhoea,
fever, or pneumonia, or skin cancer. He or she
has now developed AIDS.
a diameter of 1/10,000 of a millimetre. HIV belongs to a class of viruses called retroviruses,
which have genes composed of ribonucleic acid
(RNA) molecules. Retroviruses, like all viruses,
can only replicate within a living host cell
because they contain only RNA and they do not
contain DNA. In addition, retroviruses use RNA
as a template to make DNA.
Infection begins when an HIV particle encounters
a cell with a surface molecule called CD4.
the moment, there is no cure for HIV or for
AIDS but today there are medical treatments
that can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens
the immune system. There are other treatments
that can prevent or cure some of the illnesses
associated with AIDS. As with other diseases,
early detection offers more options for treatment
and preventative care.
stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
An HIV-infected person receives a diagnosis
of AIDS after developing one of the CDC-defined
AIDS indicator illnesses.
How does HIV transmission happen?
HIV is found in body fluids such as blood, semen,
vaginal fluids and breastmilk. It is transmitted
in the following ways:
sexual intercourse between a man and a woman
or between two men;
infected blood - for example through contaminated
blood transfusions or unsterilised needles and
syringes. ( In most places today blood transfusions
are completely safe because the blood is tested
for HIV before it is used to treat patients);
an infected mother to her baby while it is still
in the womb or during childbirth or during breastfeeding.
does not spread through "casual" everyday
contact between people. It is not transmitted
by coughing, or sneezing, or by touching or
hugging someone who has the virus. It is not
spread in air, water or in food, or by sharing
cups, bowls, cutlery,clothing, or toilet seats.
And HIV is not transmitted by biting insects
such as mosquitoes, because the quantity of
blood on their mouthparts is too minute.
In 8 out of 10 cases HIV is transmitted during
sex between a man and a woman or between two
men. The virus is passed on when infected blood,
semen, or vaginal fluids from one partner enters
the body of the other partner through the very
thin skin of their sex organs, mouth or anus,
or through sores or cuts on their mouth, hands
or body. Dry sex increases the risk of HIV transmission
because friction can cause sores in the vaginal
wall. If instead of having sexual intercourse
a couple enjoy oral sex, HIV could still pass
into any sores or cuts on the lips or mouth.
Oral sex can be made safe by the man using a
Effectiveness of condoms and how to use them
Condoms are classified as medical devices.
proper and consistent use of condoms when engaging
in sexual intercourse--vaginal, anal, or oral--can
greatly reduce a person's risk of acquiring
or transmitting sexually transmitted diseases,
including HIV infection.
may wish to consider using the female condom
when a male condom cannot be used.
condoms to provide maximum protection, they
must be used consistently (every time) and correctly.
When condoms are used reliably, they have been
shown to prevent pregnancy up to 98 percent
of the time among couples using them as their
only method of contraception. Similarly, numerous
studies among sexually active people have demonstrated
that a properly used latex condom provides a
high degree of protection against a variety
of sexually transmitted diseases, including
can only work well if they do not come off or
split. If they are stored and used carefully,
this will only very rarely happen. Both men
and women should know how to use one:
- Store condoms in a cool place, away from heat or sunshine which can damage rubber;
a new condom each time, and use it only once.
Check the date on the packet, and that the packet
is not damaged, crushed or torn;
the packet carefully, so the condom is not damaged.
Check that the condom is neither brittle nor
sticky. If it is, throw it away and use another
having sex, wait until the penis goes hard,
but put the condom on before the penis touches
the other person's sex organs, anus or mouth;
that the condom is the right way up, with the
roll on the outside;
one hand, pinch the top of the condom to press
out the air bubble;
the other hand, roll the condom right down to
the base of the penis, to the pubic hair;
a lubricant is used (and this can help to prevent
the condom from splitting), use a water based
one (KY jelly), not oils, fat or cream which
can damage the rubber;
sex, hold the condom in place and withdraw the
penis from the vagina, anus or mouth while it
is still hard;
the condom off carefully, making sure that no
semen is spilled, wrap it up and dispose of
it carefully in a toilet or latrine.
anal sex there is a greater risk that a normal
condom will split, so a special thicker condom
should be used, together with lots of a water
based lubricant. Never re-use a condom.
For more details about condoms and their use, please visit 'La Condomerie' website: they not only sell all kinds of condoms, but they also provide very useful information and suggestions!
How is HIV transmitted by infected blood?
HIV can be transmitted with:
instruments used to pierce the skin (injections,
circumcision, scarrification, ear piercing,
- Blood transfusions
- Sharing needles: if people inject themselves
- or someone injects them - with medicines or
drugs using a needle or syringe which has been
used by someone else, who might have HIV, they
will be at high risk of getting HIV themselves.
It is not possible to tell if a person has HIV.
They might not know it themselves.
development of an AIDS vaccine is also affected
by the range of virus subtypes as well as by
the wide variety of human populations who need
protection and who differ, for example, in their
genetic make-up and their routes of exposure
Inevitably, different types of candidate vaccines
will have to be tested against various viral
subtypes in multiple vaccine trials, conducted
in both high-income and developing countries.
the long term, a safe, effective and affordable
preventive vaccine against HIV is the best hope
of bringing the global epidemic under control.
However, it would be a mistake to think that
the development of such a vaccine will be quick
or easy or to expect that once a vaccine is
available it will replace other preventive measures.
Scientists are working to understand the kind
of immunity a vaccine would have to induce in
order to protect someone against HIV infection.
The information that they generate is in turn
being used by the pharmaceutical and biotechnology
industry to develop "candidate vaccines"
to be tested in HIV-negative human volunteers.
The first human trial of an HIV-preventive vaccine
was conducted in 1987 in the United States.
then, more than 30 small-scale trials have been
conducted, including 12 in developing countries
(Brazil, China, Cuba, Thailand and Uganda).
These trials, carried out with the participation
of more than 5000 healthy volunteers have shown
that the candidate vaccines are safe and that
they induce immune responses that could potentially
protect people against HIV infection.