Human immunodeficiency virus, better known as simply HIV, is a virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is a serious condition that leads to a failure of the immune system. It was discovered in 1981 and since this time HIV infections have spread to pandemic proportions. It is estimated to affect about 0.6% of the entire population of Earth and causes about 2 million deaths per year. There is no cure for HIV, but the most widely used treatment is antiretroviral drugs which increases the life expectancy of people suffering from this disease. Continue reading to find out how HIV is transmitted between people.
How is HIV Transmitted?
HIV spreads through the transfer of affected blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk. The most common ways that HIV is passed onto another person is through unprotected sex, contaminated needles, breast milk and from the mother to baby during birth. One of the largest causes of HIV transmission was blood transfusions, but proper screening has ensured this is very rare in the developed world. The virus can also be transmitted by other methods where a person may come into contact with infected bodily fluids such as; unclean tattoo/piercing methods and medical professionals working on an infected patient without proper safety precautions.
Due to the fact that there is no cure for HIV, stopping the spread of this virus is very important. The use of condoms during sexual contact is the most widely used method of reducing the risk of HIV exposure. It is also important not to share needles and avoid direct contact with blood. For pregnant women with HIV a combination of antiretroviral drugs and Cesarean section can reduce the risk of transmission to 1%.