Alternate Names : Human Immunodeficiency Virus, AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
What can be done to prevent the disease?
Although practicing safer sex cannot completely protect a person from HIV, it can lower the risk. Condoms help prevent passing along the virus. Research in laboratories has shown that a spermicide called nonoxynol-9 kills or stops the growth of HIV. However, there are not yet any studies that prove spermicides prevent HIV infection in humans. Some experts do believe that using spermicide on a condom or putting it into the vagina can kill some HIV organisms before they can infect the woman. It is safest to avoid sexual intercourse with people who have HIV infection or unknown HIV status and those who use IV drugs.
A person should not share needles, syringes, or other drug paraphernalia that could carry tainted blood or body fluids with anyone. When caring for someone in an emergency, it is important to wear gloves to protect against HIV in body secretions.
A woman who is pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, should ask her doctor to test her for HIV. If a woman has HIV, steps can be taken during pregnancy and birth to avoid passing it to her baby.
What are the long-term effects of the disease?
HIV causes many long-term effects, including:
autoimmune disorders, which cause the body to destroy its own tissues
cancers, such as Kaposi's sarcoma and non-Hodgkin''s lymphoma
cytomegalovirus infections, which can affect vision
meningitis caused by cryptococcal organisms
neuropsychiatric disorders, which change the person's thinking and interaction with others
toxoplasmosis, a respiratory infection
What are the risks to others?
Having unprotected sexual intercourse or sharing needles or syringes puts a person and his or her partners at risk for HIV.
People with known or suspected HIV infection should not donate the following: