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How does HIV spread?
A Real Danger
HIV is a very present and very serious immunodeficiency virus that poses a threat to humanity. Knowing how it can be spread is vital so that we may prevent it.
There are four things you need to know about HIV:
- HIV has spread very quickly and is potentially fatal to anyone who contracts it
- HIV causes AIDS
- An estimated 2 million new cases are registered every year
- No cure has yet been found for this virus
Methods Of Spreading
HIV can be spread in many ways.
Bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal excretions and blood can pass it on but saliva and urine do not contain the virus and so are not a danger.
In order for the virus to spread, it needs to get from the infected body or substance into another. Unprotected sex with somebody who is already infected will result in one acquiring this virus.
Here are the main methods of transmission in the world:
- Unprotected Sex
This is the most common path of transmission in the world. The virus can enter the blood of another partner through cuts or lesions in the skin. These lesions are often caused by illnesses such as other sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). Also, although it is rare, there have been cases where oral sex has caused the transmission of this virus.
- Sharing Needles
Sharing a needle that someone who has been infected has used to take drugs, legally or illegally, is very likely to spread the disease.
- Direct Blood to Blood Transfer
This is where one person’s own wound accidentally comes into contact with that of an infected person's wound allowing the disease to transfer. Police, paramedics and medical staff are particularly at risk because they sometimes have to work with infected people. There have been cases where these members have become infected whilst trying to do their job of helping the infected!
- Maternal Transmission
Whether through childbirth (mingling of blood during the birth itself) or breast feeding, a child can be infected by his infected mother.
What Are We Doing To Help?
Governmentally backed programmes and charities have been trying to spread the awareness of HIV, to stop the spread of the disease itself. Drug takers are encouraged to tell a medical service so that clean needles can be provided for them, instead of taking the risks of contracting HIV with every use from unknown needles.
Safe Sex Programmes
With increased awareness that unprotected sex with an infected can cause them to be infected too, the use of protection is more and the spread of infection less likely. Also, many Governments in developed countries provide free contraception for certain vulnerable ages (such as teenagers) to increase the likelihood of them being used. This is the same for less developed countries but the availability is not as profound, and otherwise the prices are considered too high for the citizens to rationally buy them.
Police, paramedics and medical staff are taking certain precautions to prevent blood to blood contact such as making sure their wounds are not exposed and knowing when they are dealing with infected patients or suspects.
Performing Caesarean sections instead of normal births reduces the risk of the child of an infected mother also being infected to 5% from 20%. This precaution is only realistically available however in countries with developed medical care.
Symptoms of HIV
Things Aiding Aids
The pope has opposed condoms and as such religious communities that see him as a moral figurehead have subsequently shied away from using them. This causes huge problems because there is clear evidence that unprotected sex with a HIV or AIDS infected partner has a high chance of passing on the disease.
To conclude, it is vital to understand and respect the different methods of preventing HIV spreading because it is in the interest of everyone to do so. HIV doesn't cause death to people rapidly, so there is a high chance that an infected person willl infect at least one other person before he dies or even realises he has HIV. It is a difficult (if not impossible) virus to deal with once it has already been acquired - we currently have no cure. The easiest and cheapest (in terms of both money and human lives) solution is to prevent it spreading in the first place.
Even if you do not intend to or have never intended to do any of the things that spread HIV, it is still important that you let anybody who doesn't know the dangers of these things know about them!
Remember, the main vector of HIV is spreading infection through unprotected sex.