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Know More About Aids

Sexually transmitted diseases is a general term that refers to as many as twenty different illnesses. These are transmitted by sex - usually through the exchange of bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal fluid, and blood. STD's such as herpes, can be acquired by kissing or close contact with infected areas - not just intercourse.

If left untreated, STD's can cause permanent damage that leaves you blind, brain-damaged, or sterile. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) disease, often leads to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), which can cause death. The most common STD's are chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, genital warts, syphilis, hepatitis B, crabs, and trichomoniasis.

STD's can be prevented, most can be cured. They infect men, women, and children. Mothers can also be give STD's to their babies. Anyone at any age can be a victim. It is not true that having had an STD once and having been cured, you will not get it again. This section will describe STD's and some simple steps for protection of both partners.

Who Gets STD's:

Anyone who has sex can get a sexually transmitted disease and millions do. More than 4 million people get chlamydia each year. Genital herpes affects an estimated 30 million Americans, with as many as 500,000 new cases reported each year. There are over 1 million cases of gonorrhea each year. And syphilis, once thought to be on the decline, has made a rising comeback in the last four years.

How Is AIDS Spread?

High levels of the HIV are found in an infected person's blood, semen or vaginal fluids. AIDS is spread mainly in four ways.

  • Sexual intercourse with an infected person.
  • Sharing contaminated needles and syringes during intravenous (IV) drug usage.
  • From mother to child, during pregnancy or childbirth.
  • Transfusion of HIV-contaminated blood/blood products.

You cannot get AIDS through normal day-to-day contact with a HIV-carrier. AIDS is not spread by coughs, sneezes, handshakes, sharing of cups, plates and cutlery, toilet seats, shower rooms, swimming pools and mosquito bites

Who Is At Risk?

High-risk Groups Are:

  • Promiscuous men and women, whether gay, straight or bisexual.
  • HIV drug users.
  • Sexual partners of infected persons.
  • Infants of mothers with AIDS.
  • People who need frequent blood transfusions, for example, haemophiliacs.

How Can You Avoid AIDS?

  • Avoid sex with prostitutes, strangers and people who may have had many sex partners.
  • Do not have sex with many partners. Have only one mutually-faithful partner.
  • Practise safer sex such as using a condom. This cannot fully guarantee protection but does lower the risk.
  • Do not shoot drugs. Sharing needles may transmit the virus from one person to another.
  • For ear-piercing, acupuncture and tattooing, go only to reliable operators. Make sure these operators use only properly sterilized equipment.

Blood Test For HIV

The HIV Antibody test is a simple blood test which detects antibodies to the virus. Most people develop these antibodies 2 to 12 weeks after being infected. Get yourself tested if you fall into any of the high-risk groups.

A Positive Test Means

  • You have been infected by the HIV
  • Your body fluids are infectious
  • You can infect other people

A Positive Test Does Not Mean

  • You have full-flown Aids at the moment

A Negative Test Means

  • No antibodies to the HIV were found in your blood.
  • You either have not been infected or your infection was too recent for anti-bodies to develop. In such cases, you should repeat the test in 3 to 6 months time.

A Negative Test Does Not Mean

  • You will not get infected with HIV in future.

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