About HIV

Often there are no immediate symptoms when you are infected with HIV

An image of the HIV virus

HIV attacks a part of a person's immune system, and as this gets weaker a person is at an increasing risk of rare infections and cancers that would not usually affect people without HIV. However, being HIV positive does not increase the risk of everyday infections such as the common cold.

HIV is passed on through bodily fluids such as blood and semen where it is in very high concentration. Therefore most people are infected through having unprotected sex - sex without a condom. HIV is also present in pre-cum, menstrual blood, vaginal and rectal fluids so using a condom for the entire time while having sex is the best way to avoid infection. HIV is also present in saliva but in such very small quantities you cannot be infected through kissing, body contact or using utensils etc

Often there are no immediate symptoms when you are infected with HIV. However, some people may experience flu-like symptoms, swollen glands, a rash or sore throat. This gets better over 2-4 weeks and often the HIV infection isn't diagnosed at this stage because the symptoms are very similar to other viral infections. People are very infectious in the first few weeks after catching HIV and at this stage it is very easy to pass the HIV on. Once infected, most people stay in good health for a number of years, and would not know that they had HIV unless they tested for it. However, over time as the immune system is weakened you may start to experience symptoms or develop other infections and diseases.

There is no known cure for HIV. However, if you know your HIV status, medicine is available to manage the progression of the virusĀ and keep people in good health for a very long time. Most people with HIV are now on one or two tablets a day, and the side-effects of these medications are pretty minor.