Some people may get flu-like symptoms (fever, sore throat, swollen glands, rash) early in the infection.
HIV may not have any symptoms for years
HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, which is where our body fights infection. If left untreated, HIV will damage the immune system to the point where Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) develops. AIDS is the life-threatening condition of late-stage HIV where a person’s immune system is too weak to fight off even minor infection.
HIV is passed on through the semen, blood, vaginal fluid, anal fluid or breast milk of a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. This means condomless vaginal sex or anal sex or sharing needles may be risky. HIV may also be passed on from mother to baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
There are a lot of rumours that go around about HIV, so let’s set some of those straight: You can’t tell if someone has HIV just by looking at them, you can’t get HIV by kissing or cuddling, mosquitoes don’t pass on HIV and you can’t get it by shaking hands, sharing cutlery or cups, or by eating food made by someone with HIV.
You can only get HIV through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, anal fluid or breastmilk. You can’t get HIV from saliva, sweat, or tears
A test for HIV is a simple blood test. However, it can take up to three months from the time a person is exposed to HIV until the test result is 100 % accurate.
If your results come back positive, this means you have HIV infection. When it comes to treatment, the earlier you get treated the better.
Treatment protects your immune system, prevents AIDS, and leads to a normal life expectancy. Treatment is not a cure but it can keep you healthy and help prevent passing it on to others. Your previous partners might be at risk so it’s important to let them know.