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HIV test: Commonly-used HIV ELISA tests detect the antibodies produced by the immune system in response to HIV, as it is much easier (and cheaper) to detect antibodies than the virus itself. Antibodies are produced by the immune system in response to an infection (antigen). For most people, it takes 3 months for anti-HIV antibodies to develop. In rare cases, it can take up to 6 months. During this period of early infection a person is at their most infectious.
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What does it mean ‘safer sex‘? No sexual intercourse is 100% safe. Safer sex involves taking precautions that decrease the potential of transmitting / acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, through sex. Using male or female condoms correctly every time one has sex is considered safer sex.
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HIV is transmitted through: unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex with an infected person(s), blood transfusion with HIV-contaminated blood and blood products, by using contaminated syringes, injection needles or other contaminated sharp instruments, from an HIV-infected mother to her child.
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Most people infected with HIV do not know that they have become infected, because they do not feel ill immediately after infection. Some people however develop an Acute retroviral syndrome which is a fever-like illness with fever, rash, joint pains and enlarged lymph nodes. Seroconversion refers to the development of antibodies to HIV and usually takes place between 1 and 6 weeks after HIV infection has happened.
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AIDS and HIV continue to affect the lives of millions people. Until a vaccine or a cure is found, our greatest weapon against HIV and AIDS is knowledge. In the early 1980s, people living with HIV were not likely to live more than a few years. Now, with the development of safe and effective drugs, HIV positive people have longer and healthier lives.
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