What is the HIV virus and AIDS?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes the AIDS disease. This virus passes from one person to another through the contact of blood with blood (blood transfusions, needles infected with HIV and sexual contact). In addition, an infected pregnant woman can infect her baby with the HIV virus during pregnancy, delivery or during breastfeeding.
AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is acquired when HIV infection weakens the individual’s immune system in such a way that it is difficult to fight against certain diseases and infections. There are also “opportunistic” infections that take advantage of the opportunity provided by the weakened immune system and produce disease.
How do I know if I have HIV / AIDS?
Dental problems such as bleeding gums, oral herpes lesions and fungal infections are among the first signs of AIDS. However, you should not assume that you have the infection because you have any of these symptoms because they also occur in people who do not have the disease. The only way to determine if you are infected is to have an HIV test. Consult your doctor or other health professional.
A positive HIV test does not mean that you have AIDS. AIDS is a medical diagnosis made by a doctor that is based on specific criteria. Nor can you trust the symptoms to know if one is infected with HIV. A large number of people infected with HIV have no symptoms for several years.
The following may be warning signs of HIV infection:
- Rapid weight loss
- Dry cough
- Recurrent fever or intense night sweats
- Pronounced fatigue
- Inflammation of lymph nodes in the armpits, groin or neck
- Persistent diarrhea for more than a week
- White polka dots or unusual spots on the tongue, mouth or throat
- Red, brown, pink or purple spots on or under the skin, inside the mouth, nose or eyelids
- Memory loss, depression or other neurological disorders
How to prevent HIV / AIDS?
HIV transmission can occur when blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk from an infected person enters your body. The best way to prevent HIV is to avoid the activities that allow the virus to enter our body. For more information on HIV / AIDS prevention, consult a doctor or other health professional.
A large number of people worry about the risk of infection from a blood transfusion. Since 1985, in the United States, all donated blood goes through the HIV test. The blood supply of the United States is considered one of the safest in the world.
Can I get HIV at the dentist’s office?
Due to the nature of dental treatment, people fear HIV. There are universal precautions that are used between one patient and another to prevent transmission of the HIV virus and other infectious diseases.
These precautions require dentists, hygienists and office assistants to wear gloves, masks, eye protection and infection barrier means (disposable plastic covers); also, they must sterilize all manual instruments (lathes) and other dental instruments for each patient, using specific sterilization procedures stipulated by the Centers for Disease Control. Instruments that are not sterilizable are discarded by throwing them into special containers. After the visit of each patient, the dentist must discard the gloves, wash their hands and put on a new pair of gloves for the next patient, as well as change their barrier means.
If these issues bother you and you feel fears, do not hesitate to ask your dentist everything you want about health and safety measures.
How is HIV / AIDS treated?
Currently, there are medical treatments that reduce the rate at which the HIV virus weakens the immune system. There are other treatments that prevent or treat some of the diseases related to AIDS. As with other diseases, early detection provides greater treatment options.