Worldwide, 36.7 million people are living with HIV and the disease has killed more than 1 million people in 2016. In France, 150,000 people are thought to be HIV-positive and more than 6,000 people are infected. every year. Many misconceptions still circulate about this virus. Discover the top 10 things to know about HIV and AIDS.
Source: Aids Info Service
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The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) weakens the body's immune system, making it more vulnerable to infection. In the most advanced stages of the disease, any small infection that the body would have got rid of in normal times can turn into a serious illness. It is from this moment that one can say that the person has AIDS (for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). In fact, AIDS is the name of the disease caused by HIV.
There are no specific symptoms of HIV infection, some people may have some fever, sore throat, feeling weak a few weeks after transmission, but of course these symptoms can match any other benign infection.
The virus gradually attacks the immune system of the person. The patient can also live for 10 years without knowing anything, and then overnight be diagnosed HIV positive. During these 10 years, the person will appear to be in perfect health, but will still be able to transmit the virus.
Even though at the very beginning of the epidemic, contamination with injection equipment (syringes) used for drug use was an important vector, an important prevention (and the provision of prevention kits for drug users). intravenous drugs) has reduced this mode of transmission.
Today, unprotected sex is the most common route of HIV transmission. Indeed, sexual fluids (sperm and vaginal secretions) have a high concentration of virus. More than 80% of infected people have caught the virus after sex without a condom.
You can not be contaminated if you come into contact with fluids such as saliva, sweat or tears. Hugs, kisses, exchange of cutlery, sharing a glass, etc. are not vectors of the vuris, just like caresses on the genitals of another person, even if there is ejaculation. The infected fluid must come into contact with mucous membranes or open wounds.
People who suffer from sexually transmitted infections such as herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis are at higher risk of contracting the HIV virus because these diseases cause lesions that can be inputs to the virus and the immune system is weakened at the time of infection.
At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, homosexual men were the most affected because the practice of sodomy is accompanied by a greater risk of contamination. Today, prevention campaigns for condom use have reduced the number of HIV-positive people in the homosexual population significantly. MSM (men who have sex with men) are still among the populations most affected by the epidemic, but to a lesser extent.
A woman is eight times more likely to contract the virus during a relationship with an infected person than a man. During penetration, the vagina experiences small, imperceptible lesions that are a pathway into the virus. Also, sperm is considered the most infected fluid after the blood.
There is no cure for HIV, but the virus can be treated with antiretrovirals so that infected people live near normal lives. The drugs also decrease the concentration of the virus in the fluids infected, reducing the risk of transmitting it. However, when these treatments stop, the virus reappears systematically in the blood of infected people and continues to progress.
In Western countries, the danger remains the delay of diagnosis (which makes the care more difficult). In the countries of the South, access to treatment remains largely insufficient, despite the progress made in recent years. The disease still causes more than 1 million deaths a year in the world.
If you have had sex at risk, it is better to wait six weeks before getting tested for HIV. Most people go through a period when the antibodies against the virus are being manufactured and therefore can not be detected. If you do exams before and that the screening is positive, it is that you are infected, if not, you must do again a week after.
Today, there are self-tests that allow home-based screening. There are now prophylactic treatments that may be prescribed if you have been exposed to a high risk of infection.
The World Health Organization recommends circumcision as it reduces by 60% the possibility of a man being infected with the virus during a heterosexual relationship. This will not mean that men will be protected during sexual intercourse through circumcision alone. Only the condom provides effective protection against HIV infection.