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What is HIV?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. This virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood or most commonly through sexual contact. In addition, infected people with HIV brings a hazardous effect to their state of health as it may develop to serious damage if not detected; People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Without appropriate therapy, most of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection if not treated earlier. Someone who is infected with the virus is called HIV positive. But it takes time for the virus to damage enough T cells for that person to get sick and develop AIDS. Although the HIV-positive person may feel fine, the virus is silently reproducing itself and destroying the cells. Many people are wondering What is HIV and its difference with AIDS, the latter is simply an untreated HIV wherein the immune system is too weak to fight off infection and opportunistic infections are already seen.

HIV is transmitted by these common scenarios such as having unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal or oral) with someone who is HIV positive. Another is having a transfusion with a person with an HIV infected blood, furthermore one which is common through drug abusers are the sharing of used needles and syringes with someone who is HIV positive for drugs because small amounts of blood can get trapped in the needle and may pass to another person who uses it. So what is HIV and how do you get the disease?

You might also catch the disease through piercing tools such as razor blades, tattoo needles and surgical instruments. The HIV virus lives in human blood, semen (what we normally call sperm), vaginal fluid and breast milk of infected persons. Being Positive for HIV does not mean that a person is going to die immediately. As of now there is no cure for HIV or AIDS, but there are available treatments that will delay the HIV virus from destroying the immune system very quickly.

If a person takes these treatments in time then he or she can live a good life for many years. If the person who has the virus does not get treatment in time, then the virus will destroy the immune system very quickly; then the person will reach the AIDS stage earlier, and he or she will die faster. Therefore, any time there is entry of any of these fluids into your body, you can get the virus.HIV is a VERY strong germ that attacks the White Blood Cells themselves, weakening the body’s defenses against diseases and makes the body vulnerable to potentially life-threatening infections and cancers.

HIV then uses human cells to manufacture more of the virus, eventually killing the host & nearby cells and overwhelms the immune system. After a very long struggle lasting years, HIV kills most of the immune system’s White Blood Cells, leaving the body unprotected. If a person has HIV, he or she may not show any symptoms and may look normal and healthy. There is no way of looking at a person and knowing if they have HIV. So what is HIV and how to know that you are infected?

The only way to know is to do a test. In the Philippines, you can buy an HIV Home Test Kit and do the HIV test at home privately. Many people have HIV for 10 years or more and show no signs. Some do not even know they have HIV, and can pass it to others without knowing. A person is diagnosed as having AIDS when he or she gets specific types of illnesses or gets sick in certain ways due to their HIV. Once a person’s HIV progresses to (or turns into) AIDS, the person will continue to have AIDS for the rest of their life. While there are many treatments for HIV/AIDS, at this point there is no cure. Always keep in mind that with treatment, many people with HIV are able to live long and active lives.