What is HIV?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that is part of the family of retroviruses and that increases susceptibility to infectious diseases and also growths.
Anyone can get HIV. It is not an infection specific to a sexual orientation, nationality or population group. HIV is transmitted during unprotected sex, through exposure to infected blood, and from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth and through breast milk. People at highest risk are those who exhibit risk-behaviour or those who in their everyday jobs carry a risk of exposure to bodily fluids infected with HIV.
HIV is a long-term and slowly progressing infection that destroys the body’s ability to defend itself against diseases that people with a healthy immune system rarely go through or that are caused by relatively safe bacteria, fungi and other.
Living with HIV does not mean that the person is sick. HIV causes a chronic condition that can be kept under control with medication. If left untreated, HIV can develop into AIDS in the final stage.
Unfortunately, as of yet there is no effective vaccine for HIV to protect people from getting infected. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself from HIV:
- Use protection when having sex;
- Avoid casual sex;
- Avoid contact with blood.