Services for the Health in Asian & African Regions (SHARE) = SHARE is a citizen sector organization (NGO) that engages in international cooperation mainly through providing health service.

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What is AIDS?

AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is a disease affecting the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS severely weakens the human immune system, decreasing the body's ability to fight off invading pathogens and leaving them susceptible to opportunistic infections and malignant tumors.

What Happens When You are Infected with HIV?

The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a type of retrovirus that causes AIDS. When one is infected with the virus, there is an incubation period during which no symptoms present themselves, leaving many unaware that they are infected with HIV and making it much easier for them to pass the virus on to others unknowingly. HIV then passes through the acute infection stage, latency stage, and then finally the severely immuno-suppressed stage known as AIDS. When an HIV-positive patient is diagnosed with AIDS, his or her immune system is unable to fight off infections--called opportunistic infections--that normal immune systems would be able to fight against. Thus, when the patient starts displaying symptoms of opportunistic infections, he or she is said to have AIDS.
Although no cure for HIV or AIDS has yet been discovered, several different treatments have been developed that are designed to reduce the risk of developing AIDS infection even after the patient is infected with HIV. Although in the past HIV treatment was not very effective, in recent years--after the introduction of treatment consisting of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)--it has shown much improvement, lengthening the life spans of HIV-positive patients dramatically. This medication combined with a healthy diet and exercise has enabled HIV-positive patients to live relatively comfortable lives while prolonging the onset of AIDS. Because the treatment is more effective if the HIV is caught in its early stages, those who are sexually active should get tested for HIV as well as other STDs.

How Do You Get Infected with HIV?

Infection with HIV occurs from the transfer of infected bodily fluids including blood, semen, and breast milk. As HIV infectivity is very weak, taking simple preventative measures to block these modes of transmission can decrease infection rates dramatically. Therefore, it is very important to increase awareness and understanding of the different methods of HIV transmission.
There are three primary ways in which infection occurs:
1. Sexual Transmission (genital or oral sex)
2. Blood Transmission (through needles)
3. Mother-to-Child Transmission
Because HIV can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, it is considered a sexually transmitted disease or STD. Sexual transmission is the most common mode of HIV transmission, and the only way to stop transmission from occurring is the proper use of a condom during sexual intercourse. Not only does using a condom protect against HIV, it protects against other sexually transmitted diseases. However, incorrect use of condoms is not effective in blocking transmission, so it is very important to learn the correct way to use a condom and to use a condom correctly every time you have intercourse.

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