What is HIV?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes the very serious condition known as AIDS. The HIV virus can be passed from person to person when infected blood or other bodily fluids come into contact with an uninfected personís broken skin or mucous membranes.
HIV positive pregnant women can pass the HIV virus onto their baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding. Some people who are infected with the HIV virus will develop AIDS.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
Many people who are exposed to the HIV virus experience no symptoms at all at first. Others will notice symptoms that are very similar to those of other, more common illnesses:
It is virtually impossible to tell if you have an HIV infection from symptoms alone. You should consult a physician if you
- frequent headaches
- abnormal fatigue
- an unexplained rash
have reason to believe that circumstances may have put you at risk in the past.
Who is most at risk of acquiring HIV?
The people who have the highest risk of getting the HIV virus include those who:
- received a blood transfusion before 1985
- share razors or toothbrushes with others
- work in health care or public safety
How to avoid catching the HIV virus
Circumstances that are beyond our control mean that all of us have a very small risk of being exposed to HIV, but there are things you can do to lower that risk to the absolute minimum, including:
- Pre-donate your own blood before a scheduled surgery.
- Don't share any items that are capable of exchanging
blood or bodily fluids.
- If you work in health care or public safety, take all
necessary precautions such as using sterile rubber gloves and eye protection.
By using common sense and being diligent, you can minimize your risk of exposure to HIV and developing AIDS.
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