With Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) being one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, there is a truckload of information and studies available on the internet and most of them contain detailed information about every sector of the nature of the virus.

We’ve compiled a list of the commonly asked questions below:

1. What are the top 3 risks for acquiring HIV?

  1. Having sexual activity with someone who is HIV-positive without the use of condoms
  2. Sharing needle and syringe with someone who is HIV-positive
  3. Having multiple sexual partners

2. How accurate are HIV tests?

Tests have up to 99.83% accuracy if they are done in the proper time window and with an uncontaminated specimen.

3. What is the life expectancy of someone who has HIV?

If you have HIV and have undergone treatment early or before AIDS, your life expectancy can be as long as a normal and healthy person. The earlier you are diagnosed, the higher the life expectancy there is.

4. What is the life expectancy of someone who has AIDS?

Having a full-blown AIDS limits a person’s life expectancy from 3 months up to 6 years depending on the complications encountered.

5. How will HIV affect my child If I get pregnant?

If a woman who is HIV-positive gets pregnant, then there is a chance that they may pass the virus to their child. To avoid this, the woman should take ART immediately as possible and discuss other treatment options that can decrease the risk of transmission of HIV with their ob gyne.

6. Can I still engage in sexual activities even if I am diagnosed with HIV?

Yes. However, your partner should be aware of your condition and you should protect him or her from acquiring HIV from you by taking treatment or by using condoms.

7. When should I seek for an HIV Test?

If you think you have HIV because you have multiple partners or your partner is HIV-positive, you should ask for HIV screening the soonest time possible.

8. How long does HIV progress to AIDS?

The progression to AIDS can last up to 10 years however it will vary from one person to another.

9. What should I expect if I have HIV/AIDS?

  • Living with HIV is a significant change in your life - there is no treatment for it but it can be managed effectively if you are committed with your treatment.
  • Living with AIDS is difficult because there are periods that your health may suffer severely due to complications - if your HIV has progressed to this stage, it is better to discuss with your doctor as to what is the best way to handle your case so that your quality of life will improve.

10. Are there any foods to be avoided if diagnosed with HIV?

  • To avoid any complications, people with HIV are encouraged to eat healthy foods (e.g. vegetables, lean protein, and low sugar foods) like other people.
  • There is no specific food that needs to be avoided.

11. How frequently should I visit the doctor if I have HIV?

  • Since HIV is a lifelong condition, monthly regular checkups, screening, and treatment assessment is recommended.
  • This aids in assessing if your treatment is working accordingly or if there any treatment changes or tests that need to be done.

12. Can HIV be transmitted through other modes other than bodily fluids?

No. HIV can only be transmitted through bodily fluids. Below are some of the misconceptions that will not be able to transmit HIV from one person to another:

  • Sharing clothes, utensils or bedrooms
  • Saliva
  • Air particles

13. Is there any chance that I can be cured with HIV or AIDS?

As of now, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS. Clinical trials for cure and vaccine are ongoing but those who are diagnosed with HIV can undergo the effective treatments that are available and they can have the same life expectancy as other people.

14. How does age affect the possibility of acquiring HIV?

HIV is common in sexually active people aged 13-24. However, you can get AIDS at any age as long as you are exposed to the virus.

15. How does smoking increase the risk of HIV?

Smoking does not increase the chance of acquiring HIV. However, if you are already HIV-positive and you are a smoker, there is a risk for you to get complications that can turn to opportunistic infection and can be life-threatening.

16. I’ve been diagnosed with HIV and I have undergone treatment. My latest HIV screening says that there is no virus detected in my body. What does this mean?

If you have already undergone treatment and your latest HIV screening indicated that there is no viral load in your body - this does not mean that you are HIV negative. It only means that the treatment is working and has brought the virus to undetectable levels.

17. What happens if I miss my treatment or discontinue my treatment?

  • If you miss your treatment, there is a chance that the virus may act and try to kill CD4 cells in your body. This can cause damage to your immune system and the severity will likely depend on the amount of dosage you’ve missed.
  • If you discontinue treatment, the virus will likely target your healthy CD4 cells and your HIV will continue to progress.

18. Can you stop taking HIV treatment?

No. HIV is a lifelong condition and medication should be taken as long as advised by your doctor. If you stop taking the medicine, the viral load of HIV will likely increase and damage your immune system.

19. What are the top three countries with the highest HIV-positive population?

The top 3 countries with the highest HIV prevalence are as follows:

  • South Africa
  • Nigeria
  • India

20. Is there a population that is HIV-resistant?

According to this, people with CCR5 mutations have innate resistance against HIV. CCR5 is the co-receptor of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Less than 1% of people are projected to have this kind of resistance.

Mark Riegel, MD
Mark Riegel, MD

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