Hesperian Health Guides


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Chapter 17: HIV

HIV is a virus that can lead to AIDS if not treated. HIV spreads when HIV-infected blood, semen, or fluid from the vagina gets into the body of another person. This happens most often during unsafe sex or by sharing needles when injecting drugs. Untreated HIV can also spread during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding to a baby. Sores on the genitals can also pass HIV. Semen and discharge from someone who has both HIV and another STI may contain a large amount of HIV. People who are penetrated in the vagina or anus during sex are more at risk for becoming infected with HIV.

If you think you have had unsafe sex with someone who might have HIV, see Medicines for AIDS

There is no cure for HIV, but regular treatment with medicines allows a person with HIV to live a healthy life. Practice safer sex to protect yourself and others from spreading HIV.