What is HIV/AIDS

Every day at the Mind Mantra Clinic I get many patients with extreme stress, related to HIV/AIDS. Hereby I try to answer some of the most regularly asked questions:

What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
What does having HIV or being HIV positive mean?
HIV positive means the presence of HIV virus in your body.

How do one come to know if he/she is HIV positive?A simple blood test at local hospital can give you the answer.

How deadly is HIV?HIV or the virus per say is not a killer... But its actions are one of the most deadliest known to man. As the name indicates, the virus decreases and destroys the body immunity.
Our bodies are at a constant war with the environment around. Our immunity or defence system prevents the attack from millions of viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc present in the air, water, food that we consume.
Imagine what would happen if slowly these defences are completely destroyed. Even a common cold or a common cough would kill us.

That’s exactly what the HIV virus does. It destroys the defence system making the body exposed to every type of infection.

Is AIDS the same as HIV?
No, A person can live with HIV virus for years together... But when the presence of HIV in the body can cause a disease of the immune system, which is called as Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
This condition progressively reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and leaves individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections and tumors.

How is HIV Transmitted? HIV is transmitted through body fluid contact. This can be further explained as direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream of a non-infected individual with the bodily fluid containing HIV,
such transmission happens in cases of:

1. Transmission through infected blood
2. Anal, vaginal or oral sex with an infected person leading to exchange of semen, vaginal fluid, preseminal fluid,
3. From an infected mother through breast milk.
4. Contact with Contaminated needles

How fast is HIV/AIDS spreading?
AIDS has been now upgraded to a pandemic – or a worldwide epidemic. A global estimate of 40million people are infected or suffering from the same.

If I eat properly and come from a educated, high class life, can I still get HIV?
HIV doesn’t see age, social status, education, health... if there is an exchange of infected body fluids then irrespective of all of the above, a person will get infected.

What are the most common behaviours that lead to HIV?
The most common behavioural patterns that lead to HIV are:
a. Unprotected Sex with infected individual.
b. Unprotected sex with more than one sexual partner increases the chances of HIV infection.
c. Unprotected sex with partner, who has been earlier been sexually involved with multiple partners... for example, unprotected sex with a commercial sex worker.
d. Using used needles.
e. Anal sex

If one suspects of being infected, how soon can it be detected?
Once the infection has set foot in the body the commonly available tests take upto 3 months for detecting the same.

Is there any cure for HIV/AIDS?Sadly no permanent cure for the same has been devised. Anti-retroviral medications are a key in helping prolong the deadly effects of the Virus on the Immune system, but they are not a cure.

For any further, feel free to contact me at:
Dr.Hemant Mittal
Neuro-Psychiatrist and Sexual Health Consultant
Email – eksoch@gmail.com
Website – www.mindmantra.in

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