Skip to Content
 
 
 
Find:
Advanced Search

The Causes and Effects of HIV / AIDS

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

 

 

AIDS is a medical condition. People develop AIDS because HIV has damaged their natural defences against disease.

HIV is a virus. Viruses infect the cells that make up the human body and replicate (make new copies of themselves) within those cells. A virus can also damage human cells, which is one of the things that can make a person ill.

HIV can be passed from one person to another. Someone can become infected with HIV through contact with the bodily fluids of someone who already has HIV.

HIV stands for the 'Human Immunodeficiency Virus'. Someone who is diagnosed as infected with HIV is said to be 'HIV+' or 'HIV positive'.

 

 

1. Adopt the A, B, C method

A bstinence for youth, including the delay of sexual debut and abstinence until marriage

B eing tested for HIV and being faithful in marriage and monogamous relationships

C orrect and consistent use of condoms for those who practice high-risk behaviours.

 

Causes

 

Unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person

Contact with an infected person's blood

From mother to child

Use of infected blood products

Injecting drugs

People who use injected drugs are also vulnerable to HIV infection. In many parts of the world, often because it is illegal to possess them, injecting equipment or works are shared. A tiny amount of blood can transmit HIV, and can be injected directly into the bloodstream with the drugs. Many people in the past have been infected with HIV by the use of blood transfusions and blood products which were contaminated with the virus - in hospitals, for example. In much of the world this is no longer a significant risk, as blood donations are routinely tested. HIV can be transmitted from an infected woman to her baby during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding. There are special drugs that can greatly reduce the chances of this happening, but they are unavailable in much of the developing world. If sufficient blood from an infected person enters someone else's body then it can pass on the virus. Sexual intercourse without a condom is risky, because the virus, which is present in an infected person's sexual fluids, can pass directly into the body of their partner. This is true for unprotected vaginal and anal sex. Oral sex carries a lower risk, but again HIV transmission can occur here if a condom is not used - for example, if one partner has bleeding gums or an open cut, however small, in their mouth.

One cannot contract HIV/AIDS through:

sharing crockery and cutlery

insect / animal bites

touching, hugging or shaking hands

eating food prepared by someone with HIV

toilet seats

Prevention

 

 

HIV / AIDS defined