World AIDS Day

What is AIDS?

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and describes the collection of symptoms and infections associated with acquired deficiency of the immune system. Infection with HIV has been established as the underlying cause of AIDS. The level of immunodeficiency or the appearance of certain infections are used as indicators that HIV infection has progressed to AIDS .

What is HIV?

 

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is a retrovirus that infects cells of the human immune system (mainly CD4-positive T-cells and macrophages—key components of the cellular immune system) and destroys or impairs their function. Infection with this virus results in the progressive depletion of the immune system, leading to immunodeficiency.

The immune system is considered deficient when it can no longer fulfil its role of fighting off infection and diseases. People with immunodeficiency are much more vulnerable to a wide range of infections and cancers, most of which are rare among people without immunodeficiency. Diseases associated with severe immunodeficiency are known as opportunistic infections because they take advantage of a weakened immune system.

How can HIV be transmitted?

HIV is transmitted through types of sexual activity, blood transfusion, the sharing of contaminated needles in health-care settings and drug injection and between mother and infant during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Where can I get tested?

There are many places where you can be tested for HIV: in the offices of a private doctor, a local health department, hospitals, and sites specifically set up for HIV testing. Always try to find testing at a place where counselling is provided about HIV.  You can also take an HIV test in privacy by using an HIV self-test kit. However you should go and see your health-care provider in the event of a positive test result for confirmation and seeking appropriate treatment.

Click HERE to find testing near you.

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