Do you think that HIV and AIDS are the same thing? Wrong!

In fact, AIDS is the full-blown stage of infection caused by HIV.

The HIV affects particular cells of the immune system, that causing a progressive weakening of the immune system (immunosuppression), which will lead consequently to develop a series of infections.

The infected person, not being in fact more able with their immune system, to “defend” adequately by bacteria, fungi and viruses, can be affected therefore by a series of diseases.

How is HIV transmitted?

There are three different transmission modes:

  1. Unprotected sex

Sex, heterosexual or homosexual type, not protected by the condom, may cause HIV infection transmission. Hiv is transmitted through direct contact between infected body fluids (vaginal secretions, pre-ejaculatory fluid, semen, blood) and mucous membranes. The transmission is possible even if the mucous membranes are apparently intact. Obviously, all sexual practices that promote lesions of the genital mucosa may increase the risk of transmission. This is why anal sex are at greater risk, because the mucosa of the anus is more fragile and less protected than vaginal.

To avoid transmission of infection through sexual contact, there are two main steps that you must follow:

– Have sex with an uninfected partner, where both are monogamous, so we don’t have sex with other people.

– Always use a condom in case of occasional sex (vaginal, oral and anal).

Condom use protects against the risk of infection during any kind of sexual intercourse and it is the only real barrier to avoid HIV. The douching after sex, don’t eliminate the possibility of infection. Coitus interruptus, terminate the relationship before ejaculation, don’t eliminate the possibility of infection. The use of the birth control pill, the diaphragm and the spiral are useful methods, in the woman, only to avoid unwanted pregnancies, but they have no efficacy against HIV and against other sexually transmitted infections.

  1. Via blood, that is, through the passage of blood from an infected person to another.

Transmitting through the passage of blood is through transfusions of infected blood or through the exchange of infected needles. The first type of transmission has been virtually eliminated thanks to better control of blood units, a more careful selection of donors, but also due to a lower use of unnecessary transfusions and greater autotransfusion use.

The second type of transmission is the main mode of spread of HIV in people who exchange syringes or other material used to inject the drug; this material may contain small amounts of blood that can be infected if one of the participants is HIV positive.

If these two cases may appear remote for some of us, we must not forget that the used needles and other sharp instruments can be a vehicle of transmission of HIV. How many, in fact, you will ever get a tattoo or piercing, to undergo an injection or acupuncture, or a manicure or pedicure? In these cases this may lead to minor injuries and if the instrument with which it occurred is not thrown, but will instead be exchanged between several people, the risk of transmission may increase. In these cases it is always right to claim the single-use sterile instruments, that is only used on that occasion, or properly sterilized, the tattoo artist but also the beautician.


  1. Maternal-Fetal transmission, that is from an HIV positive mother to her fetus or newborn.

The mother-to-child transmission (called vertical transmission) can occur during pregnancy, during birth or breastfeeding. The risk for an HIV-positive woman to transmit the infection to the fetus is about 15%. But you can reduce this risk to below 2% by administering anti-retroviral drugs. To determine if infection has occurred, however, the child has to undergo repeated checks in specialized facilities within the first six months of life. For the safety of the infant, all couples wishing to have a baby should consider whether to get tested for HIV.

The steps of infection:

After contracting the HIV virus, a person becomes infected with HIV. The HIV virus begins to produce antibodies against the virus. These antibodies are visible in the blood with a simple blood sample. Being HIV positive means that the infection is under way. The appearance of antibodies, however, is not immediate. The time that passes between the moment of infection and positive HIV test is called the “window period” and can last from two weeks to a maximum of three months. During this period, even if the person is still negative to the test, if it is actually infected, it is already capable of transmitting the infection. The security then a negative test after one exposure to the risk of contagion, you will have after repeating the test three months later. Following the infection people can live for years without any symptoms and the infection only to notice the occurrence of a disease associated with infection.

WHO – Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR)