Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a lentivirus that causes damage and failure of the immune system. HIV is characterized by the virus killing CD4 Cells. CD4 cells are a type of immune cells called T-Cells. Over a period of time, these CD4 cells are killed by the virus and consequently weakens the person’s immune system making them susceptible to opportunistic infection and cancer - both of which can be life-threatening.

Where Did HIV Originate?

A debate among the scientific community since the emergence of HIV in the 1980s is the origin of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The closest strain that is found to be identical to the HIV strain on humans is the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) which occurs in chimpanzees.

In a study conducted by the Department of Medicine of the University of Alabama, they concluded that the virus has jumped from chimpanzees to humans. The chimpanzees developed SIV when they ate two different species of monkeys carrying different SIV strains.

Currently, there are two types of HIV that have been deeply studied:

  • HIV-1 (Group M). This is the type that has been prevalent and has affected almost 75 million people around the world.
  • HIV-2. This type is rarer and less infectious than the first type and is usually prevalent in countries located in West Africa.

What Are The Different Causes of HIV?

Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can be done in specific activities only. Most of these activities involve the exposure or exchange of bodily fluids and the sharing of equipment that causes exposure to the bloodstream. Below are some of the common mode of transmissions of HIV:

  • Vaginal, Anal and Oral Sex. Having sexual activity with someone who has HIV and without the usage of condoms may cause exposure to bodily fluids - semen, vaginal and rectal fluid, and pre-cum fluid. The exposure to such fluids may cause the acquisition of HIV, especially if there are no medicines taken to prevent HIV.
  • Sharing of Needles and Syringes. Needles and syringes used to inject drugs or to do a tattoo when shared by one person who has HIV and one HIV-negative person can cause the transmission of the virus to the HIV-negative person.
  • Blood Transfusion. Although it is rare to occur due to blood screening done, a person who has HIV can transmit the virus when he donates his blood to a person without HIV.

What Are The Risk Factors of HIV/AIDS?

Based on the identified modes of transmissions above, these are the people who have increased chances of acquiring HIV/AIDS:

  • Sexually Active People. People who are engaged in sexual activities on both men and women and have multiple partners have her chances of getting HIV especially if they don’t use condoms.
  • People Who Share Syringes / Needles with other people. As mentioned, any equipment that has been exposed to the bloodstream of a person with HIV can transmit the virus if another person uses the syringe or needle.
  • People who receive blood on a regular basis. Albeit rare, it is still possible to acquire blood if infected blood enters your body.

What Are The Risk Factors of HIV/AIDS on Women?

Most of the factors that increase the risk of women acquiring HIV/AIDS are the same as men however below are the most common risk factors:

  • The most common way for women to acquire HIV is by having vaginal sex with men without a condom.
  • Women who engage in vaginal sex and do not use condoms have a higher risk of being passed with HIV if their partner is HIV-positive.
  • If a woman also has a partner that is engaged in multiple sexual activities, then the risk of getting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

What Are The Risk Factors of HIV/AIDS on Men?

Generally, men also have the same risk factors as women, especially if they are engaging in sexual activities. However, men have a higher risk of getting HIV if they have:

  • Anal Sex With Men. According to this study, men who have anal sex with men using lubricants or condoms have a higher risk of getting HIV.
  • Multiple Men Partner. Additionally, men who have multiple partners add a risk factor as any of their partners may be HIV-positive.
Mark Riegel, MD
Mark Riegel, MD

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