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AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) is caused by a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). If you have unprotected sex, (sexual intercourse without consistent and correct condom use) or share syringes with an infected person, you are at risk for being infected with HIV. Though specific blood tests can show evidence of HIV, you can be infected with HIV and show no symptoms at all. You may be living, and healthy, and feel as good as can be, but be infected and pass the virus to someone else.

The Spread of HIV

HIV can be spread during sexual intercourse from male to female, female to male, male to male, female to female. The virus travels in an infected person's blood, semen, or vaginal secretions and can enter the body through cuts or sores. The virus can easily slip in through small cuts in the moist lining of the vagina, penis, rectum or mouth. Anal intercourse with an infected person has been one of the most common methods of transmission.
Sharing needles or syringes with an infected person is very dangerous and has been the cause of many HIV transmissions. The virus from an infected person can remain in the syringe's needle, and can be injected into the body of another user. If you plan to have your ears pierced it is important to go to a qualified person who uses new or sterile equipment with each piercing.

The symptoms of HIV are:

  • Unexplained weight loss ( more than 10 pounds in 2 months)
  • Extreme tiredness for no reason
  • Recurring night sweats
  • Recurring fever
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Swollen glands in the neck, armpit and groin
  • White coating on the tongue or throat
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Purple blotches on the skin that do not go away
  • Persistent headaches
  • Memory loss, depression and behavior disorders

HIV in pregnant women

Women who are pregnant and infected with HIV can pass the virus on to their babies during pregnancy, birth, or breast-feeding. The baby has a one in four chance of being born with the HIV infection. Medical treatments with AZT can be used during pregnancy in order to reduce the babies risk of infection to about one in twelve(or less). With an HIV infection, your child is more likely to contract childhood illnesses, and on a more serious level. To protect your child, it is pertinent that the child is given all of his or her immunizations on time. The main immunizations are:

  • Diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus (DPT)
  • Polio (PV)
  • Mumps, measles, rubella (MMR)

Pre birth immunizations given to the mother can not prevent all risks of infections in the baby. Bacterial infections and viruses that cause colds and the flu weaken your child's immune system, and make it harder to resist more serious HIV- related diseases. Keep your child away from people who are sick and if symptoms if illness occur, contact the health provider right away.
Today there are medical treatments proven to postpone many of the illnesses associated with AIDS. This is definitely a significant step, and scientists are optimistic that HIV will someday be controllable. But as there is no cure, prevention is best!
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Genital Herpes
Genital Warts
Techniques for Prevention and Control