First, it’s good to understand more about HIV / AIDS. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV damages the body’s immune system (the body’s way of fighting sickness) and can lead to AIDS which stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, so it can’t fight off infections. HIV can lead to AIDS, which is known as the ‘late stage HIV’. Here the body is no longer able to fight off sickness. People who have AIDS can become very sick from an illness that the body would usually be able to fight itself.
You can get HIV from having unprotected sex (not wearing a condom) with someone who has the virus. HIV can be passed from one person to another through blood, semen (including pre-ejaculatory fluid) and vaginal fluids. It’s most commonly transmitted through unprotected vaginal or anal sex, but can also be caught through sharing sex toys or needles and other injecting equipment. It’s much less common for HIV to be transmitted through oral sex, but there is a greater risk if someone with HIV ejaculates in your mouth, and you have ulcerated or bleeding gums.
HIV cannot be passed on through everyday social contact. That means you cannot get HIV from shaking hands, kissing or hugging, using other people’s cutlery or cups, eating food prepared by someone who is HIV positive, sharing towels, sitting on toilet seats, or going to the swimming pool.
HIV can be passed on through heterosexual (straight) or homosexual (gay and lesbian) sex. Although men who have sex with men are most at risk of getting HIV, and women who only have sex with other women are the least at risk, it is a myth that you can only catch HIV from gay sex.
There is no cure for HIV or AIDS at the moment, although there are medications that help to control symptoms.
You can call Child Helpline Cambodia anytime for free on 1280 if you would like to receive emotional support or further information on this subject.