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The Basics: Understanding HIV

HIV infection

The Basics: Understanding HIV

We’ve been discussing HIV every week here on Black Girl Health and we understand it can be a lot of information to take in. For those who are just beginning to get informed about HIV, here is some basic info to get started.

What is HIV?

HIV stands for “human immunodeficiency virus”. As its name suggests, HIV is technically a virus that leads to an HIV infection. The term HIV itself is often used interchangeably to discuss both the virus and the infection. It is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system making it difficult to fight infections and disease. At the worst stage of an HIV infection is AIDS.

How is HIV Spread?

HIV is spread through bodily fluids. This can include blood, breast milk, semen, and vaginal/pre-seminal/rectal fluids. In the U.S. is most common for HIV to spread through sexual intercourse or shared injection needles. For children, HIV can be spread via mother-child during pregnancy, however, there are many medications that can be taken before, during, and after pregnancy to reduce probability of HIV transmission.

What are HIV Symptoms?

After an HIV infection, typical symptoms are flu-like in nature and can include fever, headaches, and rashes. It is not unusual for these symptoms to come and go over time. At more advanced stages of an HIV infection common symptoms include weight loss and signs of other infections and cancers due to the compromised immune system.

What HIV Treatment is Available?

The use of medications to treat an HIV infection is called antiretroviral treatment. This treatment involves taking various HIV medications on a daily basis. By taking these medications, the HIV infection is hindered from multiplying, helping those infected live longer, healthier lives. While antiretroviral treatment is a great and effective option to treat HIV, it is not a cure. Currently there is no cure for HIV.

To learn more about HIV visit AidsInfo.

Tyshia
Tyshia Ingram

Tyshia Ingram is a blogger, writer, and editor with a passion for empowering women of color and a love for all things digital. She spends most of her days chasing dreams, babies, and writing from the heart. When she’s not helping to curate and create beautiful stories, she’s working to make a change in her community through education and documenting the journey on her personal blog.

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