Have you recently been diagnosed with HIV, or do you know someone who has? Are you not sure what it means and are too afraid to ask your friends/teachers /family? This section on HIV can help.
We at Southern Central Ambulance Service receive a considerable amount of calls regarding the PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) treatment from young people.
If you are or know someone who is HIV negative and concerned that you/they may have been exposed to HIV, you get information from the NHS website. PEP is not guaranteed to work, but it is time critical.
What is HIV?
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that damages the cells in your immune system & weakens your ability to fight everyday infections and diseases
- It can be transmitted from one person to another
- There is currently no cure, but there are many effective treatments to enable you to live a relatively normal life – early diagnosis along with treatments will allow you to live to a near-normal life span
- Most people experience a short flu-like illness occurring around 2-6 weeks after infection, then it may not show any symptoms for years after
- Usually occurs for 1-2 weeks
- Most common symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Body rash
- Other symptoms:
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Swollen glands
- If immune system becomes damaged the symptoms are:
- Weight loss
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Night sweats
- Skin problems
- Recurrent infections
- Serious life-threatening conditions
- Having vaginal or anal sex without a condom with someone with HIV
- Sharing needles and other injecting equipment
- Mother to baby during breastfeeding or before/during birth
- Sharing sex toys
- Blood transfusion
How is it transmitted?
- Through blood by:
- Injecting equipment
- Thin walls of the anus, vagina and genitals
- Thin lining of mouths and eyes
- Cuts or sores in the skin
- Through bodily fluids such as:
- Vaginal fluids including menstrual blood
- Breast milk
- Only way to find out is through a HIV test
- HIV Tests are free on the NHS
- Can be done in clinics or with home testing kits
Treated with antiretroviral medications– stopping the virus replicating in the body