It is not known how HIV started. The first reported case was in 1959. It was detected in the blood sample of a man from Kinshasa in the Dominic Republic of the Congo. How he became infected is unknown. In the early 80’s, it started becoming an epidemic in the United States. It was originally called Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID). At this time, it was believed that the disease was something that only gay men could develop. Over time, as doctors learned more about the virus, it became known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Disease (AIDS). It was also discovered that AIDS was caused by a virus called the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Over the years, we have learned a lot about the ways that you can get HIV and the ways that you cannot.
How Is HIV Transmitted
In order for a person to develop HIV, HIV must be present and it must get inside of the body through blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. There are a variety of ways this can happen.
- Unprotected Sex: If a person has the HIV virus or AIDS and they have unprotected sex with a healthy partner, it is likely that their partner will develop the virus as well. A woman can pass on the disease through vaginal secretions and a man can pass on the virus through his semen or his pre-seminal fluid. Couples do not need to have traditional intercourse to pass HIV. It can also be transferred during oral sex. Also, it doesn’t need to be a man and a woman having sex to pass on the virus. It can also be two men and two women.
- Sharing Needles: IV drug users will often share their needles with their friends. This is one of the most common ways that HIV is passed. In order for this to happen, a person would need to be sharing a needle with someone who is already infected with the HIV virus or AIDS.
- Accidental Needle Sticks: People who work in the medical field are at risk of developing HIV if they are accidentally stuck by a needle used on someone who is infected with the HIV or AIDS virus. Over the years, hospitals and all medical facilities have created a protocol to keep accidental needle sticks from happening in the work place.
- Blood Transfusions: Blood transfusions was once a common cause of HIV and AIDS. Since then, the blood that people donate is tested for the virus. Also, the blood banks all over the world have been tested to be sure that there is no infected blood in the supply. Today, getting HIV or AIDS through a blood transfusion is very rare.
- Child Birth and Breast Feeding: If a woman is pregnant and she has HIV or AIDS, it is quite possible that she can pass the virus on to her baby during childbirth and through breast feeding. If a mother knows that she is infected, there are precautions that can be taken to keep from passing the virus. If the mother is unaware that she has the virus, the chances of the child contracting the virus are very high.
- Homemade Tattoos: Improper cleaning of the tools during a homemade tattoo is a common way to contract HIV.
Now that we know more about how HIV and AIDS are spread, we know what we need to do to keep from contracting and spreading it. Since doctors have learned so much about the disease over the last 40 years, the number of reported cases have dropped and medication has helped patients live long lives.