Frequently asked questions about HIV / AIDS

How can HIV be transmitted? What is 'risky behavior'?

HIV is present in sexual body fluids, blood and milk of infected people in a sufficient, infectious concentration that can transmit the infection.

Risky behavior is any activity that allows HIV to be transmitted from one person to another. Therefore, the sexual intercourse without a condom makes a risk because if the virus is present in body fluids of an infected person it could be transferred into the body of a sexual partner.

The correct use of condoms is a very effective way of preventing transmission of HIV during sex.

Contact with the blood of an infected person is a risk if it allows the virus to pass into the body of another person through cuts and other injuries on skin and mucosa. Therefore, it is risky to be pricked or injected with a needle and/or syringe that has been already used by another person.

There is possibility that infected women transmit the virus to her baby during pregnancy,birth of the child or through breast-feeding.

It is not possible to become infected with HIV through:
• touching, hugging, shaking hands or kissing (one word - everyday social contacts)
• bites and stings of insects and animals
• cutlery and dishes (plates, spoons, etc.).
• food prepared by the HIV positive person

What is safe sex?

Safe sex is one that involves adequate protection. Using a condom makes transmission of the virus from person to person during sexual intercourse very unlikely, almost impossible. When it is used properly, a condom represents a physical barrier that prevents infected bodily fluid to enter the bloodstream of another person.

Is there a cure for AIDS?

Currently, there is no cure.

Today, advanced medical treatments that can slow down the progress of the disease and for a certain period of time reduce its impact, are available in many countries. But, unfortunately, a drug that could totally cure AIDS has not yet been found. Because of this, the preventive measures are of great importance!

Not to get HIV is the only real way to combat this devastating and incurable disease.

What is stigma?

The stigma (social stigma) implies the severe disapproval of, or discontent with, a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society which significantly discredits the person in the eyes of others. Identifying which human differences are salient, and therefore worthy of labeling, stigma may be attached to a person, who differs from social or cultural norms.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on actual or perceived membership to a certain group or category and restricting members of that group from opportunities that are available to others, leading to the exclusion. Discrimination may involve making the difference in treatment of people based on actual or perceived membership to a group, unfair treatment and denial of rights.

Talking about discrimination means actually talking about basic human rights violations.

AIDS-related stigma and discrimination exist worldwide and refers to prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV and AIDS. The consequences of stigma and discrimination are wide-ranging: being shunned by family, peers and the wider community, poor treatment in healthcare and education settings, an erosion of rights, psychological damage, and a negative effect on the success of HIV testing and treatment. They occur alongside other forms of stigma and discrimination, such as racism, stigma based on physical appearance, homophobia or misogyny and can be directed towards those involved in what are considered socially unacceptable activities such as prostitution or drug use.

Discrimination and stigmatization associated with HIV infection are present from the very beginning of the disease. It emphasized that it is the only disease that manifests itself in three outbreaks:
• Infection with HIV
• Diseases of the side
• Public reaction to the first two
This third 'epidemic' is characterized by fear, ignorance, stigma and discrimination, as well as blaming patients for the disease they carry.

Stigma also interferes with attempts to fight the AIDS epidemic. It can deter governments from taking fast, effective action against the epidemic and it can make individuals reluctant to access HIV testing, treatment and care.