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Surely you’ve heard talk about HIV or AIDS. But if you were 100% honest, could you explain (a) what they are, and (b) how to distinguish one from the other?

This information is very important since it is one of the most dangerous sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). That’s why we are going to tell you everything you should know about them.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), which affects the immune system, making it easier for the person who contracts it to get sick. This virus is contracted when people have sexual relations without using protection, that’s why it’s super important to always use a condom.

emptyWhat’s the Difference Between HIV and AIDS?

Well, the first thing you should know is that HIV and AIDS are not the same. HIV is the virus that is transmitted from person to person, and with time, HIV destroys all types of cells that are important in maintaining a healthy immune system, and which are responsible for protecting us against infections.

AIDS is the illness caused by the damage that HIV does on the immune system, which means that the person who has AIDS, contracts dangerous infections or has a small number of cells that help the immune system. AIDS is the more advanced stage of the HIV infection and could even cause death.

How Do You Get HIV?

HIV is transmitted by semen, vaginal secretions, blood, and breastmilk. The virus can enter the body through a cut or injury on the skin and through mucous membranes (such as the inside of the vagina, the rectum, and the opening of the penis).

HIV can be contracted by:

  • Having vaginal or anal sex without protection.
  • Sharing needles, syringes, piercings, tattoos, etc.
  • Being punctured with a needle that has HIV infected blood.
  • Having wounds or open sores that come in contact with HIV infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions.

HIV is not transmitted through the saliva, so there is NO WAY to get infected by kissing, sharing food or drinks, or using the same eating utensils. Also, HIV cannot be contacted by hugging, shaking hands, coughing or sneezing, or by using the toilet after someone with HIV has used it. These are all myths, and it is important to break them.