Hi, my name is Dr. Becky Kuhn, I am a physician who specializes in HIV AIDS. Welcome to the "Brief introduction to HIV AIDS. This video will teach you information that can save your life, so please listen carefully and watch the whole video.
There's a longer video at AIDvideos.org with more detailed information.
HIV/AIDS can severely affect your life and even kill you. If you follow the instructions in this video, you can reduce or eliminate your risk of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, saving your life, the life of any current or future sexual partner, and if you are a woman, the lives of any future children.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It is a disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). When a person becomes infected with HIV, the virus begins attacking the person’s immune system. Initially, and sometimes for many years, the person may show no signs or symptoms of being ill. A person can be infected with HIV and not even know it. It can take up to six months after being infected with HIV for ordinary tests to show that you are HIV positive. After a person has contracted HIV, even before they test positive, it’s possible for them to pass on the infection to others.
If HIV does enough damage to the person’s immune system, it becomes dangerously weak, and the person becomes vulnerable to infections that a healthy person’s immune system would fight off. Without treatment, the person may die.
How does HIV spread? HIV is present in an infected person’s blood, an infected man’s ejaculation fluid called semen, an infected woman’s vaginal fluids, and breast milk. You cannot contract HIV from saliva, sweat, or tears. HIV spreads when one person’s body fluids come in direct contact with another person’s mucous membranes or breaks in the skin. Examples of mucous membranes include the eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals and anus.
There are three primary ways that HIV is commonly spread today from one person to another.
The first is sexual contact. This is by far the most common way that HIV spreads. When two people have sex and exchange body fluids, HIV may spread from one partner to the other. The more sexual partners you have, the greater your risk of contracting HIV.
The second way is sharing of needles by injection drug users. If a person with HIV uses a needle to inject a drug, some of their blood gets in and on the needle. If another person uses that same dirty needle, the other person may contract HIV as a result.
The third way is mother to child transmission. If a pregnant woman has HIV, she places the unborn child at risk for infection, most commonly while passing through the birth canal. After birth, if the child breastfeeds, they may become HIV positive through infected breast milk. An HIV positive woman can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby by using antiretroviral medications under a doctor’s supervision and, in a developed country, by feeding the child with formula instead of breastfeeding.
What can you do to reduce or eliminate your risk of contracting HIV?
To reduce your risk of contracting HIV through sexual contact, remember your ABCs: A stands for "Abstain" from sex before marriage, B stands for "Be faithful" to a single partner if you are sexually active, and C stands for "Use" a latex Condom every time you have sex. Obviously, if you are in a culture where you do not have equal rights, you may not be able to follow these guidelines.
Recently, a broader acronym was developed called S.A.V.E. S stands for Safer practices, A stands for Access to antiretroviral medications, V stands for Voluntary counseling and testing for HIV, and E stands for Empowerment and Education
If you choose to have sex before marriage, you may contract HIV. But you can do several things to greatly reduce your risk.
First, make sure that both you and your partner know your HIV status. A simple, quick blood test or oral sample where they take a swab of the inside of your mouth, can tell you whether you are HIV positive. In most countries, this test is available free of charge. Remember that it can take up to six months after being exposed to HIV for your HIV test to turn positive, so you only know for sure that you are HIV negative if you have tested negative for HIV six months after your last possible exposure to HIV.
Second, be mutually faithful with a single partner.
Third and most importantly, use a latex condom correctly every time you have sex, every way you have sex. A latex condom is not a guarantee against HIV transmission, but when used correctly, it greatly reduces the risk that one partner will infect the other. Another video at AIDSvideos.org demonstrates how to correctly use a condom. For oral sex on a woman, use a dental dam.
Also, do not use injection drugs, or if you do, make sure you never use a dirty needle to inject. You cannot contract HIV from a new, clean, unused, sterile needle that you just removed from its package. Many places have needle exchange programs where you can turn in dirty needles and get free new needles in return. As an absolute last resort, if you are about to use a dirty needle to inject a drug, you can clean the needle and syringe thoroughly inside and out with a bleach solution to reduce your risk of contracting HIV. Another video at AIDSvideos.org demonstrates how to clean a dirty needle and syringe with a bleach solution.
No matter who you are, you are a valuable individual, and your life matters as do the lives of those in your community. Take care of yourself and those around you. Make healthy choices that eliminate or reduce your risk of contracting HIV.
For AIDSvideos.com, this is Becky Kuhn.