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HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)

Description:

It is a virus called the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

Effects:

  • You can pass it on to your sexual partner(s)
  • You can infect your baby during pregnancy and birth
  • You may get AIDS (Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndrome). This happens when the virus breaks down your immune system until it gets to a stage when you cannot fight certain infections

Cause:

  • Unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex
  • From a HIV positive mother to her baby during pregnancy, at birth or in breast milk
  • Sharing drug using equipment with an infected person
  • Some people have acquired HIV through infected blood or blood products

Symptoms:

  • There are usually no obvious symptoms in the early years

Treatment:

  • Prescribed HIV medication

Prevention:

  • Don’t have intimate sexual contact
  • Protect your sexual health - always use a new condom correctly and put it on before you have sex
  • Don’t share needles
  • If you are pregnant or planning pregnancy, have a HIV test

(Source: Health Service Executive (HSE), 2007)

HPSC factsheet about HIV