The Buzz!!!

This week on Let's Talk: AIDS


What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus
. The virus infects and gradually destroys the cells in the body that usually fight infections, leaving the body vulnerable to diseases it would normally be able to fight.
Without treatment the immune system becomes weaker and weaker, and a person with HIV will begin to develop infections. As the immune system becomes too weak to fight infections, a person with HIV will begin to develop particularly serious infections. At this point the person is said to have developed AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

How is HIV transmitted? HIV can only be passed on through infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk. HIV is mainly transmitted through vaginal or anal intercourse without a condom or by sharing a needle or syringe with someone who is living with HIV.
Other ways that HIV can be transmitted are:

  • From a needle stick injury in a healthcare setting.
  • From a blood transfusion or blood products (blood is usually screened to prevent this but in some countries this may not happen so you need to check the protocol in your country of residence).
  • By giving oral sex (although this is rare and will usually only occur if a person has cuts or sores in their mouth).
  • It is IMPOSSIBLE to transmit HIV through saliva and HIV cannot be passed on through casual contact such as kissing, or sharing glasses or cutlery. HIV is a fragile virus that cannot survive outside the body.
  • Who’s at risk of HIV? Anyone who is sexually active or shares needles and injecting equipment could be at risk of HIV.
    Many people living with HIV are undiagnosed so it’s important that you don’t make assumptions about whether you or your partner has HIV.