15 Little-Known Facts about HIV

How much do you really know about HIV? The sad reality is that most people don’t know much about the virus or the disease it causes. And, that lack of knowledge can contribute to a host of problems, including an unfounded prejudice against, or a mistreatment of, those with the disease.

Here are some of the little-known facts about HIV that may surprise you:

You can’t get HIV through kissing. While HIV is spread through blood, semen, vaginal fluids, pre-seminal fluids, rectal fluids and breast milk, it is not transmissible through saliva. HIV simply cannot survive in saliva so there is little to no risk of catching the disease from kissing. Also, saliva contains enzymes and proteins that fight off infection. Both partners would need to have open, bleeding wounds in their mouths for there to be any possibility of becoming HIV positive through kissing. That would be extremely rare.

HIV is not transmitted through tears or sweat. Unless there is blood present in these bodily fluids, HIV is not transmissible by touching someone who is crying or sweaty.

HIV can be transmitted by a used needle for up to 42 days. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HIV can last survive on a used needle for 42 days.

HIV is not transmitted by sharing food, beverages or a toilet.  

HIV is not transmitted by shaking hands or hugging.

People with HIV have an increased risk of getting some forms of cancer. Sadly, this is true. Because a person’s immune system becomes weakened from HIV, they can be at a greater risk of getting cancer, particularly Kaposi’s sarcoma—a type of cancer of the nose, mouth, throat and blood vessels, lymphoma—a type of cancer of the lymphatic system (includes the spleen, lymph nodes, tonsils and thymus), cervical cancer, lung cancer, anal cancer and oral cancers.

People living with HIV often experience pain. Whether they have headaches, joint pain or abdominal pain, many people suffering from HIV also deal with chronic pain. In one study 53 percent of participants with HIV also suffered from pain. The pain typically has any number of possible causes, including: the HIV virus itself, nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy), cancer, other infections or the HIV treatments themselves.

It is possible to get HIV from a tattoo or body piercing. While the CDC is unaware of anyone becoming HIV positive from getting a tattoo or body piercing, the agency states that it is possible if the needles have been exposed to HIV or the ink is shared.

A woman can transmit HIV to a fetus or baby. It is possible to transmit HIV during pregnancy, birth or while breastfeeding. However, HIV treatment during these times can reduce the risk of transmission.

HIV is not transmitted via insects. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, HIV is not transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks or other insects.

Many of the early symptoms of HIV resemble a cold or flu. The early symptoms of HIV often include: fatigue, headaches, low grade fevers, coughing, sneezing, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, nausea, diarrhea, a runny nose or nasal congestion so it can be difficult to differentiate between HIV and a simple cold or flu. These symptoms usually appear within 2 to 6 weeks of contracting the virus and can last between a week to a month.

HIV can cause sudden menstrual changes. Periods can quickly change, including becoming lighter or heavier, or missing periods altogether, and menstrual cramps, breast tenderness and fatigue can worsen.

People living with HIV are at a higher risk of contracting hepatitis C. Hepatitis C (HCV) is a viral condition that causes inflammation of the liver. Both conditions are viral in nature and can be spread through needles. According to a study in The Lancet, people living with HIV are 6 times more likely to contract hepatitis C than those without the disease. Because there are many similar symptoms between the 2 conditions, hepatitis C may go undetected.

People with HIV can live almost as long as those without it. With ongoing treatment, it is possible to live almost as long as those who do not have HIV.

It is possible to use a home test kit to determine whether you have HIV. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved 2 at-home kits for testing HIV, including: Home Access HIV-1 Test System and the OraQuick HIV test kit. The first kit involves a blood sample that is sent via mail to a laboratory for testing, using an anonymous registration code that is provided. The results are typically available within 1 day of the lab receiving the blood sample. People call the same number using the anonymous code to receive lab results.

The latter system uses a saliva test and is available within 20 to 40 minutes. A person takes a swab of their upper and lower gums and places the swab in a test solution. Upon completion the result will show up on the test. Both tests have a 99.9 percent accuracy at determining negative results (not having HIV); however, they differ in their ability to determine positive results (having HIV) with the blood test having a 99.7 percent accuracy and the saliva test having a 91.7 percent accuracy level. The latter test should be followed up with a blood test. The FDA does not recommend using other types of at-home kits.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Cancer-Proof: All Natural Solutions for Cancer Prevention and HealingFollow her work.

 

31 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

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Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

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John J
John J2 months ago

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John J
John J2 months ago

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Richard B
Past Member 3 months ago

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Sophie A3 months ago

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Dennis Hall3 months ago

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Tabot T
Tabot T3 months ago

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Mike R3 months ago

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Angela K3 months ago

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