How Can You Catch HIV?

If you think you might be infected with HIV, it is vital to get tested by a healthcare professional. There are different tests available for the virus, including HIV serology and a dried blood spot test. The latter involves taking a sample of blood from a heel or finger prick and blotting it onto filter paper. Testing for HIV is recommended every year for men and even more frequently for people at higher risk.

A blood test is the most accurate way to test for HIV. You can get the test from a doctor, or at a sexual health clinic or charity. If the results come back positive, further blood tests will be needed. If you are diagnosed with HIV, your healthcare provider will discuss possible treatment options.

HIV is spread by touching or kissing a partner who is infected. It is also passed through drug injections. If you think you are at risk, see your GP to get tested. You should also try not to share sex equipment. It is important to avoid sharing needles and other medical equipment.

Most newly infected people will experience some form of a flu-like illness between two and six weeks after infection. While most cases of HIV infection are the result of unprotected sex with a person with HIV, some people experience no symptoms at all. This is called the’seroconversion illness’ and can last up to four weeks. The symptoms are usually short-lived and caused by the body’s immune system fighting the virus. However, these symptoms are often mistaken for the flu.

HIV can be passed through unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person or by sharing a needle. The risk of HIV transmission is less than 1% if the HIV-positive person has a condom. The virus is also transmitted through saliva. In the UK, HIV is most commonly spread through oral or vaginal sex without a condom. The person giving oral or anal sex must have good oral hygiene. It is also important to see a medical practitioner if you suspect you have been exposed to HIV.

Antiretroviral drugs can also help prevent the virus from spreading. These drugs come in tablet form and must be taken regularly. During treatment, patients are encouraged to follow a healthy diet, exercise and quit smoking. They are also encouraged to get yearly flu jabs and five-yearly pneumococcal vaccinations.

Having a child diagnosed with HIV is a challenge for many parents, so it is essential that they understand the risks and how to protect themselves. For example, some parents may choose to hide the diagnosis for months or even years, which can lead to serious problems. Children should be able to discuss the illness and ask questions without fear of stigmatisation.

One of the best ways to prevent HIV is to practice safer sex and not share needles. HIV is especially prevalent in the sub-Saharan African countries, and in most cases, is acquired through unprotected sex. Although people with HIV do not experience symptoms immediately, the infection will make them more infectious for weeks.