24 January 2009
HIV / AIDS and Social Contact FAQs
Is deep kissing a route of HIV transmission?
Deep or open-mouthed kissing is a very low risk activity in terms of HIV transmission. HIV is only present in saliva in very minute amounts, insufficient to cause infection with HIV. There has been only one documented case of someone becoming infected with HIV through kissing; a result of exposure to infected blood during open-mouthed kissing. If you or your partner have blood in your mouth, you should avoid kissing until the bleeding stops.
Can I become infected with HIV through normal social contact / activities such as shaking hands, toilet seats, swimming pools, sharing cutlery, kissing, sneezes and coughs?
No. HIV is not an airborne, water-borne or food-borne virus, and does not survive for very long outside the human body. Therefore ordinary social contact such as kissing, shaking hands, coughing and sharing cutlery does not result in the virus being passed from one person to another.
Can I become infected with HIV from needles on movie/cinema seats?
There have been a number of stories circulating via the Internet and e-mail, about people becoming infected from needles left on cinema seats and in coin return slots. These rumours appear to have no factual basis. For HIV infection to take place in this way the needle would need to contain infected blood with a high level of infectious virus. If a person was then pricked with an infected needle, they could become infected, but there is still only a 0.4% chance of this happening. Although discarded needles can transfer blood and blood-borne illnesses such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV, the risk of infection taking place in this way is extremely low.
Is there a risk of HIV transmission when having a tattoo, body piercing or visiting the barber?
If instruments contaminated with blood are not sterilised between clients then there is a risk of HIV transmission. However, people who carry out body piercing or tattooing should follow procedures called 'universal precautions', which are designed to prevent the transmission of blood borne infections such as HIV and Hepatitis B. When visiting the barbers there is no risk of infection unless the skin is cut and infected blood gets into the wound. Traditional 'cut-throat' razors used by barbers now have disposable blades, which should only be used once, thus eliminating the risk from blood-borne infections such as Hepatitis and HIV.
Am I at risk of becoming infected with HIV when visiting the doctor or dentist?
Transmission of HIV in a healthcare setting is extremely rare. All health professionals are required to follow infection control procedures when caring for any patient. These procedures are called universal precautions for infection control. They are designed to protect both patients and healthcare professionals from the transmission of blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis B and HIV.
Can I become infected with HIV through biting?
Infection with HIV in this way is unusual. There have only been a couple of documented cases of HIV transmission resulting from biting. In these particular cases, severe tissue tearing and damage were reported in addition to the presence of blood.
Can I be infected with HIV through contact with animals such as dogs and cats?
No. HIV is a Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It only affects humans. There are some other types of immunodeficiency viruses that specifically affect cats and other primates, namely the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV). These viruses are of no risk to humans. Some people have expressed concern that they could become infected if scratched by an animal that has previously scratched an HIV positive person. This is exceptionally unlikely, and there are no documented cases of transmission occurring in this way.
Can I get HIV from a mosquito?
No, it is not possible to get HIV from mosquitoes. When taking blood from someone, mosquitoes do not inject blood from any previous person. The only thing that a mosquito injects is saliva, which acts as a lubricant and enables it to feed more efficiently.
Can I transmit HIV to my baby during pregnancy or breastfeeding?
An HIV-infected pregnant woman can pass the virus on to her unborn baby either before or during birth. HIV can also be passed on during breastfeeding. If a woman knows that she is infected with HIV, there are drugs she can take to greatly reduce the chances of her child becoming infected. Other ways to lower the risk include choosing to have a caesarean section delivery and not breastfeeding.
Does donating blood or having a blood transfusion mean that I am putting myself at risk from HIV?
Some people have been infected through a transfusion of infected blood. In most countries, however, all the blood used for transfusions is now tested for HIV. In those countries where the blood has been tested, HIV infection through blood transfusions is now extremely rare. Blood products, such as those used by people with haemophilia, are now heat-treated to make them safe. Donating blood at an approved donation centre should carry no risk, as all equipment should be sterile and blood collection needles are not reused.
Does circumcision protect against HIV?
There is very strong evidence showing that circumcised men are about half as likely as uncircumcised men to acquire HIV through heterosexual sex. However, circumcision does not make a man immune to HIV infection, it just means that it's less likely to happen. Male circumcision probably has little or no preventive benefit for women.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) above was re-published in this blog after I got permission from "AVERT.org" through email sent by Matthew Leake. For more information please visit AVERT.org. This post only a general knowledge, please contact your doctor for more detail. Stay away from the disease not from the person who got HIV / AIDS.
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