'Mavis' is HIV positive , her child is sponsored by IR South Africa.
There are about 40 million people living with HIV worldwide and every year around 2 million people will die from a HIV-related illness. Yet despite the fact that the disease has reached pandemic proportions there are still many misconceptions surrounding HIV/AIDS which contribute to the confusion, fear and stigma.
Here we try and answer a few common questions and concerns….
What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The virus attacks the immune system making sufferers susceptible to diseases and infections that the body would usually be equipped to fight.
What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Once a person has developed AIDS this means that the number of immune cells in their body has dropped to a dangerous level.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV can be transmitted through:
- Vaginal secretions
- Breast milk
It is NOT transmitted through:
Where did HIV come from?
The most widely accepted theory suggests that the disease was passed into humans via a species of chimpanzee, either as a result of killing and eating the animals, or from blood entering wounds on the body of those hunting the animals.
Is there a cure for HIV?
There is no cure for HIV or AIDS. There are drugs which enable people diagnosed as HIV-positive to live longer and drugs which can prevent opportunistic infections in AIDS sufferers, but these drugs are toxic and can cause serious side-effects.