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Flashcards

Learn the most important facts about HIV in an entertaining way

What actually is a virus?

  • infectious particles which consist of genetic material (DNA or RNA) and a protein coat
  • Viruses have no metabolism of their own and therefore need a cellular organism ("host") in order to multiply.

Ref. Christian Hoffmann and Jürgen K. Rockstroh: HIV 2016/2017 www.hivbuch.de. Hamburg: Medizin Fokus Verlag, 2016.

What is HIV?

HIV stands for "human immunodeficiency virus" and it damages/weakens the human immune system.

Ref. Christian Hoffmann and Jürgen K. Rockstroh: HIV 2016/2017 www.hivbuch.de. Hamburg: Medizin Fokus Verlag, 2016.

What does AIDS mean?

AIDS stands for "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome". AIDS is an immune deficiency which occurs as a result of the destruction of the immune system caused by HIV. Various combinations of symptoms develop (usually severe infections and tumours), which the body can no longer overcome, leading to a fatal outcome.

Ref. Christian Hoffmann and Jürgen K. Rockstroh: HIV 2016/2017 www.hivbuch.de. Hamburg: Medizin Fokus Verlag, 2016.

Is there a difference between HIV and AIDS?

HIV and AIDS are not the same. People who carry HIV do not automatically have AIDS too. AIDS is when HIV has weakened the body's own immune system to such an extent that the body cannot fight infection properly. Subsequently, certain life-threatening symptoms can occur, e.g. severe infectious diseases and tumours.

Ref. HIV- und STI-Prävention der Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung (BZgA): HIV/AIDS As of 11 August 2017. https://www.gib-aids-keine-chance.de/wissen/hiv_aids.php

How can HIV be transmitted?

HIV is generally transmitted by

  • unprotected sexual contact with an infected partner (with a detectable viral load)
  • sharing needles when taking drugs
  • mother-to-child transmission (before birth, during birth or through breastfeeding)

Ref. Christian Hoffmann and Jürgen K. Rockstroh: HIV 2016/2017 www.hivbuch.de. Hamburg: Medizin Fokus Verlag, 2016.

How can HIV not be transmitted?

HIV is not transmitted by

  • kissing
  • skin contact/body contact (shaking hands, touching, hugging)
  • swimming pool, sauna, toilet
  • tableware, clothing, laundry
  • air
  • insect bites

Ref. HIV- und STI-Prävention der Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung (BZgA): HIV/AIDS. HIV-Risiken und Nicht-Risiken. As of 11 August 2017. https://www.gib-aids-keinechance­.de/wissen/aids_­hiv/wie_hiv_­nicht_uebertragen_­wird.php.

Can you die from HIV infection?

No. The course of HIV can vary greatly from person to person, but if left untreated, it will lead to the collapse of the human immune system and the onset of AIDS. Various diseases develop which the body is unable to fight off and which can therefore prove fatal. This can be avoided in HIV-positive patients by taking effective medication for life.

Ref. ifi - Institute for Interdisciplinary Medicine. Centre for Infectious Diseases: HIV infection and its treatment. Course of the infection. As of 11 August 2017.

Ref. http://www.ifi-medizin.de/en/medical-services/centre-for-infectious-diseases/hiv-infection/course-of-the-infection.html

Can you cure HIV?

Unfortunately not. As it stands at present, science and research has unfortunately not found a cure for HIV infection. However, there are now numerous antiretroviral drugs which are used against HIV and can prevent severe immunodeficiency. The life expectancy and quality of life of HIV-positive patients can therefore be greatly increased.

Ref. BZgA/DAH (Ed.): HIV/AIDS von A bis Z. Heutiger Wissensstand. 5th edition, 2014.

Is there a vaccination against HIV?

No, there is no vaccine that can prevent HIV infection.

How does HIV affect the body?

HIV primarily invades the T helper cells (CD4 cells) of the human immune system, uses these cells to multiply and destroys them. One of the roles of the T helper cells is to support the immune system in defending against pathogens. HIV destroys these important defence functions, so the body becomes weak and susceptible to diseases.

Ref. Christian Hoffmann and Jürgen K. Rockstroh: HIV 2016/2017 www.hivbuch.de. Hamburg: Medizin Fokus Verlag, 2016.

Are there typical symptoms of HIV infection?

No. While a variety of disease progressions may develop due to HIV infection, there are no "typical" symptoms. Frequently, (in 40 – 80% of all cases) non-specific, flu-like symptoms, such as fever and rashes, appear in the first weeks following infection. These symptoms subside after 7–10 days.

Ref. Christian Hoffmann and Jürgen K. Rockstroh: HIV 2016/2017 www.hivbuch.de. Hamburg: Medizin Fokus Verlag, 2016.

Can you tell if someone is HIV-positive from looking at them?

No. You cannot tell whether someone is HIV-positive or HIV-negative just by looking at them.

Ref. HIV Symptome Informations-Initiative zu HIV & AIDS: HIV-Anzeichen. As of 11 August 2017. https://www.hiv-symptome.de/aids-anzeichen/

What does "late presenter" mean?

"Late presenter" is the term used to describe people who are not diagnosed with HIV until very late on. Despite dramatically improved treatment options, many patients do not see a doctor until late in the course of their HIV infection.

Ref. Christian Hoffmann and Jürgen K. Rockstroh: HIV 2016/2017 www.hivbuch.de. Hamburg: Medizin Fokus Verlag, 2016.

What does "acute HIV infection" mean?

The stage shortly after infection is described as "acute HIV infection". The viruses multiply at a phenomenal rate during this period. In 40 – 90% of cases, temporary, flu-like symptoms become noticeable after just a few days to a few weeks after infection (incubation period), which are associated with a virus-specific immune response. This symptomatic phase subsides after 7–10 days.

Ref. Christian Hoffmann and Jürgen K. Rockstroh: HIV 2016/2017 www.hivbuch.de. Hamburg: Medizin Fokus Verlag, 2016.

What is the "latent phase" of HIV infection?

The primary phase is followed by the "latent phase" 6 – 12 weeks after being infected with HIV. This phase is also known as the "asymptomatic phase" and may last for several years. The viral load is relatively low since the immune system can keep the HIV under control for some time. Those affected do not normally experience any symptoms. However, the immune system has to fight the HIV on a daily basis and becomes weaker and weaker.

Ref. Christian Hoffmann and Jürgen K. Rockstroh: HIV 2016/2017 www.hivbuch.de. Hamburg: Medizin Fokus Verlag, 2016.

What is "post-exposure prophylaxis" (PEP)?

HIV PEP is an emergency measure which is designed to reduce the risk of potential HIV infection after a situation involving risky contact. HIV PEP must be started quickly! Taking the medication should ideally happen within two hours or within 24 hours if possible. It consists of a combination of 3 drugs that combat HIV, which are taken for 4 weeks.

Ref. Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe: HIV/AIDS. Safer Sex accident/PEP. As of 11 August 2017. https://en.aidshilfe.de/safer-sex-accident

Which bodily fluids contain viruses and can therefore transmit HIV?

Bodily fluids that can transmit HIV are:

  • blood
  • semen
  • vaginal fluid
  • bowel secretions
  • breast milk

Ref. BZgA/DAH (Ed.): HIV/AIDS von A bis Z. Heutiger Wissensstand. 5th edition, 2014.

Which bodily fluids cannot transmit HIV?

Bodily fluids that cannot transmit HIV are:

  • saliva
  • tears
  • urine
  • faeces
  • sweat

Ref. BZgA/DAH (Ed.): HIV/AIDS von A bis Z. Heutiger Wissensstand. 5th edition, 2014.

Is it possible for an HIV-positive woman to give birth to an HIV-negative child?

In Switzerland, women infected through heterosexual contact aged between 25 and 34 were the age group that was most affected in 2015, accounting for 33% of new HIV cases. Just at the age when the desire to have children is most common. What was unthinkable at the beginning of the HIV epidemic, is now possible for HIV-positive women thanks to modern drugs: having a healthy, HIV-negative child.

Ref. Federal Office of Public Health HIV/STI Statistics and analyses 2015.

Ref. HIV und STI in der Schweiz im Jahr 2015: eine epidemiologische Übersicht (pdf).

How can HIV be transmitted from mother to child?

Mother-to-child transmission can occur at the following times:

  • during pregnancy,
  • during birth and
  • when breastfeeding

The transmission rate can be reduced from 15 – 45% to less than 2% by taking antiretroviral medication and having a viral load below the limit of detection.

Ref. World Health Organization: HIV/AIDS. Mother-to-child transmission. As of 11 August 2017.

Ref. http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/mtct/about/en/

Ref. Slideshare: HIV in pregnancy. Dr. Babitha. As of 11 August 2017.

Ref. https://de.slideshare.net/babithamc9/hiv-in-pregnancy-55891867

How many people are living with HIV in Switzerland and across the world?

Around 20,000 people are living with HIV or AIDS in Switzerland. There are around 36.7 million people with HIV or AIDS across the world.

Ref. Swiss AIDS Federation: FAQ. Statistics on HIV/AIDS. As of 11 August 2017

Ref. http://www.aids.ch/en/faq/hiv-test/statistics.php

Approximately how many new HIV infections were registered in Switzerland in 2015?

In total, there were around 538 new cases of HIV in Switzerland.

The transmission routes were as follows:

  • 59% sex with other men
  • 28% heterosexual contact
  • 2% using contaminated needles
  • < 1% blood transfusions (abroad) or mother-to-child transmission

Ref. Federal Office of Public Health HIV/STI Statistics and analyses 2015.

Ref. HIV und STI in der Schweiz im Jahr 2015: eine epidemiologische Übersicht (pdf).