You generally don't think about it, even though it's been around for 30 years. You don't know anyone, or at least you don't think you do, that has it.
You've seen movies about it. Hell, you've even cried during them. And although you may have shed a few tears, you thought to yourself: "This is never going to happen to me."
At first, the only reason you were hesitant to have unprotected sex with your partner may have been because you weren't ready, or willing, to get pregnant.
But what about the other repercussions? When did "safe sex" become all about conception? Maybe today is the day you remember that having unprotected sex has more than one possible outcome. Maybe today you'll realize just one time can result in sexually transmitted diseases and change your life. Maybe today, you'll remember that getting the HIV and AIDS virus isn't only "for gay men."
One in five people living with HIV have no clue. And in honor World AIDS Day, maybe it's time to see if you're one of them.
The winter months are prime time for the sniffles. What you don't know about your swollen glands and achy muscles is that in addition to being symptoms for the seasonal flu, they are also an early indication of HIV.
Between six weeks and three months after infection (while your body is beginning to form antibodies to the virus), other early symptoms such as rashes and a fever may show up. And while a majority of those infected with the disease will be asymptomatic, it's important to get any of these reoccurring ailments checked out.
If you have the virus, you are always contagious -- however, during the earliest stages, the risk for contamination is VERY high. Not only can you pass this on to a partner, but also to an unborn baby.
As the infection progresses, those with the disease become more prone to illness and infection. And while a healthy individual can find successful treatments for these everyday ailments, those with HIV have weakened immune systems and a tougher time battling even the common cold.
The later symptoms of HIV include:
- Frequent fevers
- Persistent yeast infections
- Dramatic weight loss
- Lack of energy
- Mouth, genital, or anal sores from herpes infections.
- Persistent skin rashes or flaky skin
- Short-term memory loss
What are you doing to protect yourself against HIV?
Image via SibleyHunter/Flickr