HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the causative agent of AIDS which primarily targets the human cells. This causes the human immune system to fail in its function, thus causing the body to be vulnerable to life-threatening infections and diseases. This virus is transmitted through sexual intercourse, contact with the infected blood in an open wound of an infected person, from an infected mother to the fetus during pregnancy or during childbirth, or through breastfeeding and contact with other body fluids like saliva, urine and sweat of an infected person. Being familiar with the modes of transmission leads us to knowing how to prevent acquiring the virus.
Here are the most basic ways on how to avoid getting HIV:
- Maintain a healthy sexual relationship. You need to maintain a healthy sexual relationship and bee careful in choosing the person you have sex with. Make sure he/she is uninfected and preferably use condoms. Have a few partners or better yet, just be faithful to one partner. If possible, refrain from having sexual intercourse with people you do not know. It would be good to note that studies have shown that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV in boys. Sexual education and counseling is also very important to help practice safer sexual behavior.
- Be cautious in using needles, taking injections, blood contact and transfusions. Do not share supplies used in injecting drugs or medications. Always make sure that the needles and equipments used are new, safe and sterilized to avoid getting infected. After using these articles, immediately dispose of them. If you are a blood recipient, make sure that you have given consent for the procedure and that the blood donor is credible. Test all blood supplies for viruses and heat-treat the blood products where possible. Avoid unnecessary blood transfusions to reduce the risk of infection. For healthcare workers, you can reduce the risk of getting infected by practicing safety measures like washing hands, using sterile equipments and wearing protective barriers when coming in contact with the blood, body fluids of any patient.
- Be aware and participate. The government and many other organizations have campaigns, programs, counseling and policies to promote a healthy lifestyle and to avoid acquiring the HIV virus. You have the responsibility to participate in these projects to help combat the spread of the disease. Through these programs you could also be educated and have a better understanding of the situation and be more knowledgeable on the prevention.
- Learn how to prevent transmitting the disease to your child if you are a mother with HIV. An infected mother should consult professional help to seek medication and drug prescriptions to prevent the transmission to the baby. Antiretroviral drugs are usually taken to reduce chances of transmission during childbirth. Infected mothers should not breast feed their babies since the HIV virus can also be acquired through breastfeeding.
- Be careful and be hygienic. Open wounds are sites of transmission so you must always keep wounds clean and protected. Avoid getting an open wound coming in contact with the body fluid, saliva and/or urine of an infected person. Generally, keep yourselves clean and protected.
Several infected people do not immediately recognize they are infected until the disease gets worse. Unfortunately, there is still no vaccine or cure for HIV/AIDS. This is the very reason why we have to be familiar with its symptoms and be very careful not to acquire the virus. You do not have to be infected before you practice cautiousness.