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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV as it is most commonly known, is a highly infectious virus which is spread through sexual contact, or coming into contact with infected blood be it through transfusions or tattoos through contaminated needle use. Many people who have been infected with the virus do not have any obvious symptoms, but those who do will begin to show these within 4-12 weeks of transmission. The symptoms are very similar to those of glandular fever, with a high temperature and in some cases, a rash. After this period the virus can remain dormant for up to 15 years within the body. Eventually, when the immune system is unable to cope, the AIDS infection occurs. After diagnosis of AIDS, death often occurs in less than two years.

Who is at risk of HIV?

HIV is a global problem, and although it was once predominant in Africa or more common in homosexuals, it is now not so pigeon holed. Those who work with blood products in their occupation are at high risk, as are those who choose to engage in practices that increase the risk of infection, such as health workers and social carers.

How can I prevent HIV?

There is currently no available vaccination protecting against HIV, therefore it is very important you seek to protect yourself personally. It is important you always make sure any sexual activity is protected, and by avoiding tattoos, dental treatment or other practices which involves puncturing the skin within a foreign country or at a place that is not reputable.