The Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, has been the talk of many people since the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Because it is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is incurable and lethal in later stages, it is often feared among Singaporeans. However, advancements in medical research have helped scientists and doctors understand the virus much better, even allowing for the opening of HIV clinics in Singapore. As a sexually active person, you may be concerned about HIV, its transmission methods, its testing methods and potential treatment options. All your questions will be answered in this guide. Here are ten facts you need to know about HIV.
1. HIV is transmitted through the transmission of sexual fluids into a sex partner.
These fluids include seminal fluids, anal fluids, vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk. Saliva does not transmit HIV. You can only contract HIV if these fluids directly enter your bloodstream either through sex or through injections.
2. HIV cannot be transmitted through everyday touch.
Sitting in the same toilet bowl as someone who has HIV will not allow for transmission. Similarly, touching an HIV-positive person or sharing food will not cause you to have HIV.
3. HIV is not usually transmitted if a condom is properly worn during sex.
Besides preventing pregnancy, condoms also prevent the transmission of sexual fluids, which means an almost negligible chance of contracting STDs like HIV.
4. HIV will not be transmitted through mosquito bites.
While blood is a method of transmission for HIV, mosquito bites will not transmit HIV. This is because the virus dies within a few moments of leaving the human body. By the time the mosquito finds another person to bite, the virus would have been rendered completely inactive.
5. There are specialised STD clinics that can test for HIV and dispense HIV-related medicines.
If you think you may have HIV and are afraid to consult a GP or polyclinic doctor, there are specialised STD clinics that maintain confidentiality. Doctors at these clinics are well-versed in STDs and can help you with improving your sexual health.
6. A common symptom of HIV is a high fever.
Most patients experience a high fever of 39 to 40 degrees one to two weeks after contracting the virus. The signs would look similar to dengue fever. However, there are some patients who do not experience any symptom at all. The only way to know for sure is to perform a HIV test in Singapore.
7. Results of the HIV test will take about 20 minutes.
After seeing your STD doctor, a rapid HIV test would only take 20 minutes for results to be available. A regular HIV test with blood drawn from your arm will take about 1 to 3 days before you get the results. It may also be convenient to test for other STDs while you’re at it.
8. There are medications available to help suppress the effects of HIV.
While there is no cure for HIV at the point of writing, there are medicines that can delay the onset of AIDs for decades. HIV is no longer a death sentence.
9. Both heterosexual and homosexual people can contract HIV.
Despite being previously known as gay-related immune deficiency (GRID), HIV can be contracted by anyone who is sexually active. In fact, about half of the people with HIV in Singapore contracted it through heterosexual encounters. It is important for everyone, regardless of sexuality, to be aware of the dangers of HIV.
10. There is a medicine that can be taken to reducing the chance of HIV infection after potential exposure.
HIV PEP is a series of antiretroviral medicines that can potentially prevent an HIV infection. However, it must be taken as soon as possible after the potential exposure. Studies have shown it is only effective if taken up to 72 hours after exposure.
Without a doubt, HIV is an issue that will affect any sexually active person. If you think you may have contracted HIV, do contact your STD doctor for an HIV test as soon as possible.