251122 How is HIV transmitted?
Courtesy of https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/hiv-aids-and-older-adults
Anyone, at any age, can get HIV. People usually acquire HIV from unprotected sex with someone living with HIV, through contact with HIV-infected blood, or by sharing needles with a person living with HIV. You may be at risk if:
- You had sex without a latex or polyurethane condom. The virus passes from the person living with HIV to his or her partner via blood, semen, or vaginal fluid. During sex, HIV can get into your body through body fluids and any opening, such as a tear or cut in the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, or — rarely — the mouth. Latex condoms can help prevent HIV transmission between sexual partners. (Natural condoms, like condoms made from lambskin, are not as effective as latex and polyurethane condoms at protecting against HIV/AIDS.)
- You or your sexual partners have shared needles with a person living with HIV. People who inject illegal drugs are not the only people who might share needles. For example, people with diabetes who inject insulin or draw blood to test glucose levels could also share needles. Talk to your partner(s) about their drug and sexual history, and always use a new, sterile needle for injections.
- You had a blood transfusion or operation in a developing country at any time.
- You had a blood transfusion in the United States between 1978 and 1985.
- You were diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB) at any time.
Talk to your partner(s) about their drug and sexual history
Learning more about HIV risks can help you stay healthy. Even though it may be hard to do, ask your partner about his or her sexual history and whether he or she has ever shared needles. You might ask: Have you been tested for HIV? Have you ever had unprotected sex? Have you injected drugs or shared needles with someone else?
What are the symptoms of HIV?
Many people do not notice symptoms when they first acquire HIV. It can take as little as a few weeks for minor, flu-like symptoms to show up, or more than 10 years for more serious symptoms to appear, or any time in between. Signs of early HIV infection include flu-like symptoms such as headache, muscle aches, swollen glands, sore throat, fevers, chills, and sweating, and can also include a rash or mouth ulcers. Symptoms of later-stage HIV or AIDS include swollen glands, lack of energy, loss of appetite, weight loss, chronic or recurrent diarrhea, repeated yeast infections, short-term memory loss, and blotchy lesions on the skin, inside the mouth, eyelids, nose, or genital area.
021222 Is HIV/AIDS different in older adults?
A growing number of older people are living with HIV/AIDS. One reason is because improved treatments are helping people with the disease live longer. Nearly half of people living with HIV in the United States are age 50 and older. Many of them were diagnosed with HIV in their younger years. However, thousands of older people get HIV every year.
Older people are less likely than younger people to get tested, so they may not know they have HIV. Signs of HIV/AIDS can be mistaken for the aches and pains of normal aging. Older adults might be coping with other diseases and the aches and pains of normal aging, which can mask the signs of HIV/AIDS.
Some older people may feel ashamed or afraid of being tested. Plus, doctors do not always think to test older people for HIV. Some people may not have access to high-quality health facilities and services, which can limit their treatment options. By the time the older person is diagnosed, the virus may be in the late stages and more likely to progress to AIDS.
Remember, if you are at risk, get tested regularly for HIV.
For people who have HIV, it is important to start treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis. Treatment can help reduce the level of HIV in the blood to undetectable levels. When treatment makes HIV undetectable, the possibility of spreading the virus to a sexual partner becomes very low. This is known as treatment as prevention (TasP).
Even when the disease is well controlled, people with HIV may develop aging-related conditions at a younger age. HIV and its treatment can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain and the heart. For example, people living with HIV are significantly more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people without HIV. Older people living with HIV also have an increased risk of dementia, diabetes, osteoporosis, frailty, and some cancers. They also may be more likely to fall. It’s common for older adults with HIV to experience mental illness, especially depression and addiction, and they tend to be more isolated. Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about how living with HIV could affect you as you grow older.
Facts about HIV/AIDS
You may have read or heard things that are not true about how you get HIV. Here are the facts:
- You cannot get HIV through casual contact, such as shaking hands or hugging a person with HIV/AIDS.
- You cannot get HIV from using a public telephone, drinking fountain, restroom, swimming pool, whirlpool, or hot tub.
- You cannot get HIV from sharing a drink.
- You cannot get HIV from being coughed or sneezed on by a person with HIV/AIDS.
- You cannot get HIV from giving blood.
- You cannot get HIV from a mosquito bite.