A lot of people are confused between HIV and AIDS. Despite being similar to an extent, there are a few differences between them which everyone should know. Since, there is so much stigma attached to these terms in our society, ignoring any awareness and knowledge about them would only lead to discrimination.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is a virus that affects a person’s immune system, making them more vulnerable to infections and diseases. It is found in the infected person’s body fluids (blood, semen and vaginal fluids, and breast milk). The virus can be passed from one person to another through blood and sexual contact and also, by an infected mother to her child during pregnancy, at the time of delivery and during breastfeeding.
AIDS is the condition that occurs after being infected with HIV. It is the final stage of the HIV. At this stage, the virus has progressed to a level where the body has lost significant number of white blood cells resulting in a weakened immune system.
Therefore, HIV is a virus that causes AIDS. Not everyone infected with HIV advances to this stage. Though there is still no cure for HIV/AIDS, but we can always protect ourselves from progressing to AIDS. If detected early and intervened with medication, the pace of the virus spreading all over the body can be slowed down which can even delay the onset of AIDS.
How can one get infected with HIV virus?
HIV can be transmitted through –
- Sexual transmission: Sexual contact between two people that involves sexual secretions from rectal, genital or oral mucous membrane, unprotected sex or sharing sex toys with someone infected with HIV are the main causes of this transmission.
- Perinatal transmission: HIV can be passed on from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy, at the time of delivery or during breastfeeding.
- Blood Transmission: The virus can also be transmitted when one shares or reuses needles and syringes contaminated with HIV-infected blood.
How can one lower the risk of getting HIV?
- Practice safe sex – Choosing less risky sexual behaviour and using condoms regularly and correctly can help lower the risk of getting infected.
- Know your partner’s health – Talk to your partner if he/she has already been tested for. Also, reduce the number of partners you chose to be physical with.
- Get tested for other STDs and encourage your partner to do the same – If you are sexually active, get tested at least once a year.
- Don’t share needles – Firstly, taking drugs is not the right thing at all. Sharing of needles and syringes should be avoided in any case.
At one time in history, a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS was considered a death sentence. Thanks to research and development of new treatments today, people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS are living long and productive lives. However, there is still a vital need to increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
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Tattooing, a form of body art has been around for thousands of years. Anthropologists believe that it evolved ages ago as cuts in the skin to form scars – a decidedly painful process. That physical suffering depicted a leap in spiritual development and also passed as a tribal symbol of belonging to a certain tribe or religion. The colour, extracted from soot or plants, came much later.
However, with evolving times, this form of body art has been adapted as an art of expression; depicting human feelings, self-expression, religious traditions, sexual motivation or belonging to a community or a group. To some it is about being trendy, while to others it may be a matter of conviction. Be it for fun or as a form of art, not many people are aware of the fact that they are injecting hazardous chemicals into their skin as they get themselves inked!
Tattoos are permanent as ink is injected into the deep layer of the skin. Earlier, natural dyes were used as ink but today many of these ink contain an unknown conglomeration of metallic salts (oxides, sulphides, and selenides) which are harmful and have many ill-effects on your skin. Many of these chemicals were originally intended for use in printer inks and in automobile paints and the same is used on your skin in the form of a tattoo; so it certainly deserves a second thought!
The message here is not to make you say NO to tattooing, but to make you more aware of its pros and cons.
Risk associated with Tattoo:
- Infection – When same needle is used by multiple persons, it may pass infection, like HIV and hepatitis, from one person to another
- Allergies – Getting a Tattoo makes one prone to many skin allergies and also causes itching and rashes
- Scarring – Unwanted scars while getting or removing a tattoo
- Granulomas – The human body may treat some particles of tattoo pigment as foreign material in your skin and may result in small knots or bumps
- MRI complications – In certain cases, while undergoing MRI scans there might be swelling or burning in the Tattoo
Moreover, the long-term effects of using a Tattoo ink is still unknown, as there has been no research on the safety of tattooing by any government regulatory agency.
You can lower your risk by taking a few simple precautions:
- Get your Tattoo done at a licensed store where health and safety rules are followed
- Watch out for used needles and ask the tattoo artist to use new needle each time
- Ensure disposable gloves is used and proper hand hygiene is followed before and after getting a tattoo.
- Equipment must be properly cleaned and sterilized
- Cover your fresh Tattoo with sterile gauze or a bandage
Before getting a Tattoo, get yourself mentally prepared for it. Don’t pressurize yourself to get tattooed just for the sake of fashion or emotional expressions. Do your research, take precautions and proper safety measures before you decide to get inked!
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