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 Health Hint #261
Protect Yourself against HIV/AIDS
 
 
Excerpted from "A Year of Health Hints"
365 Practical Ways to Feel Better and Live Longer



Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that destroys the immune system, leaving the person unable to fight certain types of infection or cancer. HIV also attacks the central nervous system, causing mental and neurological problems. The virus is carried in bodily fluids (semen, vaginal secretions, and blood, including menstrual blood).

Certain activities are likely to promote contracting HIV. High-risk activities include:

Unprotected* anal, oral and/or vaginal sex except within a monogamous relationship in which
neither partner is infected with HIV. Particularly high risk situations are having sex:
When drunk or high
With multiple or casual sex partners
With a partner who has had multiple or casual sex partners
With a partner who has used drugs by injection or is bisexual
When you or your partner has signs and symptoms of a genital tract infection
Sharing needles and/or "the works" when injecting any kind of drug.
Pregnancy and delivery if the mother is infected with HIV. (This puts the child at risk. The use
of the drug, AZT, can lower this risk a great deal).
Having had blood transfusions, especially before 1985, unless tested negatibe for HIV.

HIV cannot be transmitted through:

Donating blood
Casual contact such as touching, holding hands or hugging
A cough, sneeze, tears or sweat
An animal or insect bite
A toilet seat
Using a hot tub or swimming

Someday, a cure for AIDS may exist. For now, prevention is the only protection. Take these steps to avoid contracting HIV:

Unless you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship, use male latex condoms every
time you have sex. The spermicide, Nonoxynol-9 may inactivate the HIV. But this was
only shown in laboratory studies, not in studies on humans. Using a latex condom is most
important. Don't use Nonoxynol-9 spermicide alone.
Don't have sex with people who are at a high risk for contracting HIV. These have been
noted to be:
Homosexual or bisexual men especially with multiple sex partners or who inject illegal
drugs
Heterosexual partners of persons infected or exposed to HIV
Persons who have had multiple blood transfusions, especially before 1985, unless tested
negative
Don't have sex with more than one person.
Ask specific questions about your partner's sexual past, i.e., have they had many partners or
unprotected (no condom) sex? Do not be afraid to ask if they have been tested for HIV and if
the results were positive or negative.
Don't have sex with anyone who you know or suspect has had multiple partners. (If you've had
sex with someone you suspect is HIV positive, see your doctor).
Don't share needles and/or "the works" with anyone. This includes not only illegal drugs such as
heroin but steroids, insulin, etc. Don't have sex with people who use or have used injected illegal
drugs.
Don't share personal items that have blood on them, such as razors.

Early symptoms of HIV/AIDS include fatigue, loss of appetite, diarrhea, weight loss, persistent dry cough, and night sweats. But symptoms may not show up for seven to ten years after a person is infected with the virus.

Screening tests for AIDS are available through doctors' offices, clinics, and health departments. Know that it could take as long as three to six months from the time of possible exposure for HIV antibodies to show up in a blood test.

*Unprotected means without correctly used latex condoms alone or with other latex or polyurethane barriers from start to finish for every sex act.

 About The Author
This article has been taken from Healthier at Home® – Your Complete Guide to Symptoms, Solutions & Self-Care, a book published by......more
 
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