The Human Immunodeficiency Virus causes HIV. It is a virus transmitted through sexual contact, mother to child transmission, blood transfusions, and bodily fluids. (e.g., semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk, blood.) AIDS is caused by the HIV infection but is used to describe only the final stage of HIV. The virus attacks and destroys the immune system. There is no cure or treatment, and being HIV positive, may be asymptomatic. Drugs are used to prolong life and enable HIV-positive people to lead full lives. Anti-retroviral drugs are also used to help to decrease the risk of mother to child transmission. Practicing safe sex is essential to reduce the risk of being exposed to the virus, being tested, and knowing the status of a partner. Avoiding contact with blood is also essential, and gloves are needed to assist in any First Aid. PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis), can be given, to help decrease the risk of developing HIV, if treatment starts within 72 hours of contact.
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