What is HIV ?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the causing agent of AIDS. This virus enters the human body through infection from another human and may remain in the body for years (ten years or more) without any symptoms; however that person can still transmit infection to other people.
What is AIDS ?
The word “AIDS” is an abbreviation of the English words that stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It entails a group of symptoms and signs that occur at the late stage of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. AIDS compromises the human immune system severely to the extent that an HIV +ve person becomes vulnerable to diseases that the healthy body can easily overcome.
How does HIV cause AIDS ?
In the first phase of exposure to HIV infection, the virus multiplies inside the body and affects certain immune system cells that help the body – in normal circumstances – to resist diseases. This period may extend from a few months to several years, during which a person living with HIV (HIV +ve person) may not experience symptoms. Without these cells, the body cannot defend itself against various diseases, and so opportunistic infections may result
How does HIV infection occur ?
Virus may be transmitted from an infected person to another one only through:
- Unprotected (without a condom) sexual intercourse with someone who may be infected with the virus.
- Contaminated blood or sharing of injecting equipment.
- From a mother infected with HIV to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
What are the body fluids that may cause HIV infection ?
The body fluids which may cause HIV infection HIV: blood and its products, sexual fluids (seminal and vaginal fluid), breast milk and amniotic fluid (surrounding the fetus inside the uterus).
Can HIV be transmitted through shaking hands or other casual means ?
No. HIV is not transmitted through casual day-day actions. HIV is not transmitted by touching, or kissing or hugging a person or through sharing bathroom, eating, or drinking or working with a person living with HIV. HIV is not air born.
How can we prevent HIV transmission through sex?
Abstaining from sex is the only way to guarantee that no infection will occur. However, the only effective way for HIV prevention through sexual intercourse is to use a condom properly and consistently from start to end. In case of not using a condom, you need to be sure that you have only one partner who is faithful and knows his/her HIV status. Knowing someone well does not mean that you are protected from infections.
Is there a difference between the vulnerability of men and women regarding HIV infection ?
Women are more vulnerable to HIV infection biologically and for social reasons. Worldwide, close to half of people living with HIV are females. Biologically: women are more vulnerable to infection, because the area of the vagina that could be exposed to infected sexual fluids is large; and women are more vulnerable to other sexually transmitted diseases which increase the chance of transmission of the virus. Socially: women’s social status and economic dependence on men, and the high level of female illiteracy in Egypt, and the limited right to access to information on reproductive health are all factors that prevent women from discussing sexual matters with her husband, and therefore she cannot ask him to use condoms. In addition, in rural community especially girls marry at an early age, making them more vulnerable.
Is there a cure for AIDS or a Vaccine ?
Scientists have not discovered a cure yet. But a group of anti-viral drugs are used to the patient’s condition. These drugs (ARVs) are provided by the Ministry of Health in Egypt free of charge to patients. It is also necessary to treat opportunistic infections as they arise. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent HIV infection.
Who is the Person Living with HIV (PLHIV) ?
A person living with HIV is a person who has been infected with HIV. This person may not necessarily have AIDS. The medical expression of AIDS should be only used to the person who proved clinically that the immune system collapsed to a certain point.
How can I tell if a person is HIV+ ?
You cannot tell if someone is infected with HIV from their appearance. HIV testing is the only way to confirm infection and monitor the person’s medical condition.
Why don’t we just test everyone to discover the infected ones ?
Because the test only indicates the HIV status at the time of sampling. It does not guarantee that a person will not be infected at any other time. Testing must be accompanied by counseling. In addition there is a stage between the time the virus enter the body and the positive test results. Conducting the test at an early stage before the body produces the antibodies to the virus may show a false negative result.
Moreover, the testing must be voluntary in order to prevent further stigmatization and discrimination against those who have been exposed to infection, and to encourage the groups most vulnerable to infection to progress to receive services without fear or coercion.
Do I have to provide any personal information to get tested for HIV ?
No, because HIV testing is a strictly confidential and voluntary process. For this reason, VCT centers will not ask for any identification or personal information.
Where can I get more information ?
Call the toll-free hotline number 08007008000 for more information on HIV
Should I report if I know someone is living with HIV ?
Should you report a person with diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer? HIV is not a crime. It is a diseases and should be treated like any other.
Is it possible for a woman living with HIV to get pregnant ?
It is possible if certain precautions are taken. A woman how wished to get pregnant should follow a medically supervised course of treatment during pregnancy, perform caesarian-section delivery, and follow a course of treatment to the new born, while avoiding breast feeding to reduce the risk of transmission to 0%.
Can the person living with HIV get married ?
Yes, the person living with HIV can lead a normal marital life provided that the couples have sufficient awareness and are using proper protection.
Is it possible to integrate a person living with HIV in the community ?
Absolutely, PLHIV can live and work in the community without any danger to those around him/her.