HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus

 HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus
HIV or human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that destroys immune cells. As a result, HIV weakens the body’s immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to infections. If a person does not receive treatment, an HIV infection can eventually lead to AIDS. HIV affects people of all ages, races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

How Is HIV Transmitted?

HIV can transmit through different bodily fluids, including:
semen and pre-seminal fluid
vaginal secretions
rectal fluids
breast milk

HIV transmission only occurs if the bodily fluids of a person with detectable levels of HIV enter the bloodstream of a person who does not have HIV.

HIV can enter the bloodstream through:
cuts or broken skin
open sores
direct injection
mucous membranes, such as those found in the mouth, rectum, vagina, and tip of the penis

HIV is not transmitted through:
air or water
saliva, tears, or sweat
toilet seats
day-to-day contact, such as shaking hands, hugging.

Chances Of Contracting HIV

Anal Sex – both can contract HIV via anal sex, the receptive partner has a higher chance. This is because the lining of the rectum is thin and easily injured. The insertive partner may contract HIV via the urethra or small cuts, scratches, and open sores on the penis. Having a rectal infection like herpes may also increase the risk of transmission.

Vaginal Sex – Females can contract HIV through the lining of the vagina and cervix if a male partner’s bodily fluids, such as semen and pre-seminal fluid, carry HIV. Males can contract HIV from the vaginal fluid and blood through the opening of the penis, the foreskin, and small cuts and scratches or open sores.

Having a vaginal infection may also increase the risk of transmission.

Oral Sex – Mouth-to-penis oral sex may carry the highest chance of transmitting HIV, but the chances are still very low. Factors that may increase the chance of contracting HIV via oral sex include:
• sores on the vagina, mouth, or penis
• bleeding gums
• oral contact with menstrual blood
• the presence of other sexually transmitted infections.

Types Of HIV Related Pain

Types of pain that commonly affect people with HIV include:

• Headache: Pain can range from mild to severe and may present as intense pressure, tightness, or a throbbing sensation. Low CD4 cell counts, infections, or other HIV-related illnesses can cause headaches.

• Joint, muscle, and bone pain: HIV can be associated with arthritis and osteoporosis, both of which can cause pain in the joints, muscles, and bones. This type of pain can also occur with aging.

• Stomach pain: Without treatment, HIV can weaken the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to opportunistic infections. These infections sometimes occur in the gastrointestinal tract, causing painful symptoms, such as inflammation and stomach pain. Some HIV treatments can also cause painful abdominal cramps.

HIV can damage the peripheral nerves, which can lead to a neurological disorder known as peripheral neuropathy. In people living with HIV, doctors sometimes also refer to this condition as HIV neuropathy.

HIV Prevention

• using a condom or other barrier method during sex
• reducing the number of sexual partners
• getting vaccinated against other STIs, such as HPV and hepatitis B
• avoiding using injectable drugs, if possible
• if using injectable drugs, avoiding sharing needles and syringes
• following all workplace safety protocols


A person should consult a healthcare professional if they are concerned about HIV exposure. People who take medication for HIV can plan on attending follow-up appointments with their doctor. Certain behaviors can increase a person’s chance of contracting HIV. HIV transmits through bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, and breast milk. People can use condoms or other barrier methods to lower their chance of contracting HIV through sex.
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