D R . E L R O I


Saturday, June 7, 2008

How Is HIV Transmitted?

For the HI virus to be transmitted, it needs certain body fluids, conducive conditions and certain "actions" that could lead to infection.

In some body fluids of an infected person, the HI virus is found in such high concentrations that someone can be infected if they come into direct contact with it. These fluids are blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk. During unprotected sex, a person will have direct contact with semen or vaginal fluid and sometimes even with blood. This is once again, why HIV infection takes place mostly when people are having unprotected sex.

On the other hand, body fluids such as saliva, tears, perspiration and urine will have such low concentrations of HIV that there is no chance of infection. This is why normal social contact and kissing is not dangerous and will not lead to HIV infection. Let's have a closer look at these different fluids.

Blood, two or three drops in an open wound could infect a person but the contact must be between a fresh, bleeding wound and an open wound. If the wound has already formed a scab, infection cannot take place.

Semen and vaginal fluid, both are sexual fluids in which this virus occurs in just as high a concentration as in blood. During unprotected sex, the partners definitely come into contact with semen or vaginal fluid. This is why 90% of infections in Africa occur sexually.

Breast milk, during earlier studies it was said that there is only a high enough concentration of HIV during the first week after breastfeeding has started - the so called colostrums phase. It was said that during this period the milk has a high protein content which includes antibodies from the mother and also a high concentration of the HI virus that could infect the baby if it has an open sore or a throat infection. At this stage, breast milk is considered a high concentration fluid throughout the period of breastfeeding. It is important to note, however, that infection from mother to child through breastfeeding can also be caused by blood contact if the mother has cracked nipples.

The virus occurs in such a low concentrations in saliva, tears, urine and perspiration that infection is highly unlikely to occur. To date there has been no evidence of transmission via these fluids. It has been said that a person would have to swallow about 7 liters of saliva before running the risk of being infected as a result of an open-mouthed kiss (a "French kiss")! It would be even more true to say that you would have to be injected intravenously with 7 liters of saliva before there would be a high concentration of viruses to infect you.

So, although precautions should definitely be taken in terms of especially blood and semen, the low concentration fluids just mentioned need not concern anyone.

What then, are the conditions necessary for the infection? See next post.

Note: Information was excerpt from the "Channels of Hope" manual.

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