HIV today is not like yesterday

Welcome to hividag.se

Living with HIV in Sweden today is not like it was yesterday. The treatment of HIV is now so effective that it can reduce virus levels to practically zero and minimise the risk of transmission. Today, HIV is no longer a fatal disease but a chronic, treatable infection. With prompt intervention, you can expect to live for as long as you would have done without HIV.

A growing number of people in Sweden now live with HIV, yet ignorance about what this means can lead to discrimination. This is why we need to increase public awareness. At hividag.se you can find out more about what life is like for people with HIV today.

Sweden’s Public Health Agency is the national coordinator of HIV prevention, a task that also includes reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with the infection. Within this framework, it is running a national information campaign about HIV in Sweden.


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HIV

HIV infection, or HIV as the disease is normally known, is caused by a virus. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV can be transmitted via unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse. The virus can sometimes be transmitted via unprotected oral sex, especially if you get sperm in your mouth and there are wounds or sores on the oral mucosa. You can also contract HIV via blood if you use drugs and share syringes and needles with someone who carries the virus.

Symptoms of HIV

In the beginning, you will not necessarily perceive any problems if you have contracted HIV. Some experience a sore throat, fever, swollen lymph glands or rashes on the body. The symptoms occur in such cases roughly one to four weeks after infection. This is known as primary infection. Symptoms can be similar to those of influenza and normally disappear after a week or so. However, the infection continues, undetected, to weaken the body’s immune system. The disease is especially infectious during the first months after infection. At this point, before the immune system has had time to react, the viral load is very high, regardless of whether or not you develop symptoms.

Treatment

There is no vaccine or cure for HIV. There is however effective medicine today that stops the progression of the disease and prevents the destruction of your immune system if administered in time, thus also preventing the development of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Successful medical treatment also means that infectiousness becomes very low, as the viral load in the blood and other bodily fluids is drastically reduced. This is true provided that you do not have any other sexually transmitted infection. Condoms must therefore always be used during intercourse in order to minimise the risk of infection and protect against venereal diseases. As the treatment does not cure the disease, it must continue throughout the person’s life.

All pregnant women are offered an HIV test so that treatment can commence during pregnancy and so that precautionary measures can be taken during delivery in order to reduce the risks to the child if the mother has HIV. It is very uncommon today in Sweden that a mother with HIV transmits the virus to the baby during pregnancy or in childbirth.

Get tested for HIV

A test is the only way to find out if you have HIV or not. The earlier an HIV infection is detected, the earlier treatment can start and damage to the immune system minimised. An ongoing asylum process is not affected if you should be diagnosed with HIV when you are tested. You can find your nearest clinic on  www.1177.se or ring 1177 and choose # 5.