Brief Introduction to HIV and AIDS

 

Hi, my name is [PRESENTER NAME]. I’m [PRESENTER ROLE]. Welcome to “A Brief Introduction to HIV and AIDS.”

 

HIV and AIDS can make you very sick and even kill you. If you follow the instructions in this video, you can reduce your risk of being infected with HIV, the cause of AIDS. This may save your life, the lives of any current or future sexual partners, and the lives of any future children you may have.

 

AIDS is the final stage of infection by a virus called HIV. When a person becomes infected with HIV, HIV weakens the body's ability to fight disease. Initially, and sometimes for many years, the person may show no signs of being ill. A person can be infected with HIV and not even know it. On average, if a person takes an HIV test at least 25 days after they are first infected, they will get a test result of “HIV positive.” However, in rare cases, it can take up to six months after being infected with HIV for tests to show that a person is HIV positive. After a person is first infected with HIV, even before they test HIV positive, it’s possible for them to infect others.

 

If HIV does enough damage to the body's ability to fight disease, the person becomes more likely to get infections that a healthy person’s body would fight off. When this happens, we say that the HIV positive person has AIDS. Without medical treatment, the person may die.

 

How does HIV spread? You cannot become infected with HIV from saliva, sweat, or tears or by living, working, eating, or shaking hands with a person who has HIV. HIV is present in an infected person’s blood, an infected man’s ejaculation fluid called semen, an infected woman’s vaginal fluids, and breast milk. HIV typically spreads when one person’s body fluids like blood, semen from a man, vaginal fluid from a woman, or breast milk come in contact with an opening in another person’s body like the vagina, mouth, anus, or breaks in the skin. There are three ways that HIV is commonly spread today.

 

The first way HIV spreads is sexual contact. This is by far the most common way that HIV spreads. When two people have sex, HIV may spread from one partner to the other. The more sexual partners you have, the greater your risk of being infected with HIV.

 

The second way HIV spreads is sharing of needles by injection drug users. If a person with HIV uses a needle to inject a drug, some of their blood gets in and on the needle. If another person uses that same dirty needle, the other person may become infected as a result.

 

The third way HIV spreads is mother-to-child transmission. If a pregnant woman has HIV, the unborn child may become infected. Most commonly, this happens during childbirth. After birth, if the child breastfeeds, the child may be infected through breast milk.

 

What can you do to reduce your risk of being infected with HIV? Not having sex and not sharing needles minimizes your risk.

 

If you have sex, you can do several things to greatly reduce your risk.

 

First, make sure that you know whether you are infected with HIV and whether your partner is infected with HIV. A simple, quick blood test or oral sample (where they take a swab of the inside of your mouth) can tell you whether you are HIV positive. In most countries, this test is available free of charge. Remember that it can take up to six months after being exposed to HIV for your HIV test to show a result of “HIV positive.” Therefore, you only know for sure that you are not infected with HIV if you get a test result of “HIV negative” at least six months after the last time you may have been exposed to HIV (such as the last time you had sex or shared needles).

 

Second, have only one partner and make sure your partner only has sex with you.

 

Third and most importantly, use a latex condom correctly every time you have sex, every way you have sex. This includes vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex. A latex condom is not a guarantee against HIV transmission, but when used correctly, it greatly reduces the risk that one partner will infect the other.

 

To use a condom correctly, you must put it on the hard penis before any contact between the penis and the partner's body. When putting the condom on the penis, leave a little extra space at the tip to hold the semen, and unroll the condom down the shaft all the way. Do not pull the condom over the penis like you would pull a sock over a foot. After the man ejaculates, he should hold the condom at the base of his shaft to make sure it doesn't fall off and immediately remove his penis from his partner before the penis becomes soft. This will reduce the risk that the condom will leak. Afterwards, throw the condom away.

 

Fourth, if you have any other sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis or gonorrhea, get them treated, since they increase the risk of HIV transmission.

 

Fifth, if you are a sexually active, heterosexual man, consider being circumcised by a medical professional. Studies in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa showed that medically performed circumcision with counseling reduces a man's risk of being infected with HIV through heterosexual sex by about half. Circumcision is not a guarantee against HIV infection. It is also not a substitute for safer practices like using a condom. Circumcised men must continue to use condoms just like uncircumcised men for their own protection and for the protection of their partner.

 

We understand that if you lack money or live in a culture where you do not have equal rights, you may not be able to follow these guidelines. Efforts to provide all people access to prevention education, condoms, HIV testing, and AIDS medications are also important.

 

Sharing of needles among injection drug users is one of the most common ways HIV is transmitted. Do not use injection drugs. If you do, never use a dirty needle to inject. You cannot be infected with HIV from a new, clean, unused, sterile needle that you just removed from its package. As an absolute last resort, if you are about to use a dirty needle to inject a drug, you can clean the needle and syringe thoroughly inside and out with a bleach solution and then rinse it with water to reduce your risk of being infected with HIV.

 

Before getting married, get tested for HIV, have your partner get tested as well, and discuss your test results together. Some people do not have sex before marriage but then become infected with HIV from their spouse. Their spouse may not have realized they were HIV positive or may have known it and not said anything.

 

If you are pregnant, get tested for HIV even if you feel sure you're not at risk. An HIV positive woman can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby by using AIDS medications under a doctor’s direction. If she has reliable access to clean water and infant formula, she can further reduce the risk by feeding the child with formula instead of breastfeeding. Getting tested for HIV and following your doctor's instructions if you're HIV positive can save your child's life.

 

If you are already HIV positive, what can you do to avoid transmitting HIV? Before you have sex, tell your partner that you are HIV positive so you can discuss together how to prevent transmission. Use a condom correctly every time you have sex, every way you have sex. If you are on AIDS medications, take them on schedule at the dosages prescribed by your doctor.

 

No matter who you are, you are a valuable individual, and your life matters as do the lives of those in your community. Take care of yourself and those around you. Make healthy choices that reduce your risk of being infected with HIV.

 

For AIDSvideos.org, this is [PRESENTER NAME].

 

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WORD COUNT: 1369

 

Script by Becky Kuhn, M.D. of Global Lifeworks and Eric Krock of AIDSvideos.org.

 

The English original script was reviewed for accuracy and approved by Becky Kuhn, M.D. on March 18, 2009.

 

© 2006 - 2012 Global Lifeworks. All rights reserved.

 

References

 

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, "Adult Male Circumcision Significantly Reduces Risk of Acquiring HIV," 31 December 2006 news release. http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/dec2006/niaid-13.htm

 

Instructions to translators:

Š      “…by a virus called HIV.” If germ theory is widely understood and accepted in your target language and culture, and the term “virus” is widely understood, leave in the phrase “a virus called” since it will add understanding if the target viewers understand what a virus is already. However, if germ theory is not widely understood or accepted and/or the term “virus” is not widely understood, just omit the phrase “a virus called.” This is a judgment call.

Š      “every time you have sex, every way you have sex. This includes vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex.” In this sentence, the sentence listing specific sexual practices “This includes vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex.” should be considered optional. If a specific sexual practice such as anal sex and/or oral sex is considered too taboo or offensive in your culture, you may leave this sentence out.

Š      “any other sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis or gonorrhea,” We are listing syphilis and gonorrhea as two examples of sexually transmitted diseases. If the terms for either or both of these diseases are little known or too hard to understand in your language and culture, you may leave either or both of them out.