Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body's ability to fight the organisms that cause disease.

HIV is a sexually transmitted infection. It can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of HIV vary depending on the stage of infection. Though people living with HIV tend to be most infectious in the first few months, many are unaware of their status until later stages. The first few weeks after initial infection, individuals may experience no symptoms or an influenza-like illness including fever, headache, rash or sore throat.

As the infection progressively weakens the immune system, an individual can develop other signs and symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhoea and cough. Without treatment, they could also develop severe illnesses such as tuberculosis, cryptococcal meningitis and cancers such as lymphomas and Kaposi's sarcoma, among others.

How HIV / AIDS is transmitted

  • HIV can be transmitted via:
    • Blood transfusions.
    • Having sex, (with an infected partner whose blood, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body).
    • Sharing needles(HIV can be transmitted through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood).
    • During pregnancy or delivery or through breast-feeding. Infected mothers can infect their babies. But by receiving treatment for HIV infection during pregnancy, mothers significantly lower the risk to their babies.
  • You can't become infected through ordinary contact (hugging, kissing, dancing or shaking hands) with someone who has HIV or AIDS.
  • HIV can't be transmitted through the air, water or insect bites.

How do I know if I have HIV / AIDS?

If you have any of the above symptoms, you should contact your doctor who will perform some tests.

There are four main types of HIV test:

  • Full blood test is the most accurate test and can normally give reliable results from one month after infection; where a sample of blood is taken in a clinic and sent for testing in a laboratory. Results are usually available within a few days.
  • "Point of care" test; where a sample of saliva from your mouth or a small spot of blood from your finger is taken in a clinic. This sample doesn't need to be sent to a laboratory and the result is available within a few minutes.
  • Home-sampling kit; where you collect a saliva sample or small spot of blood at home and send it off in the post for testing. You'll be contacted by phone or text with your result in a few days.
  • Home-testing kit; where you collect a saliva sample or small spot of blood yourself and test it at home. The result is available within minutes.

How can I treat HIV / AIDS?

There's no cure for HIV/AIDS, but a variety of drugs can be used in combination to control the virus. Each class of anti-HIV drugs blocks the virus in different ways. It's best to combine at least three drugs from two classes to avoid creating strains of HIV that are immune to single drugs.

How to prevent having HIV / AIDS?

Individuals can reduce the risk of HIV infection by limiting exposure to risk factors. Key approaches for HIV prevention, which are often used in combination, include:

  • Male and female condom: Use correct and consistent use of male and female condoms , can protect against the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
  • Harm reduction for injecting drug users: People who inject drugs can take precautions against becoming infected with HIV by using sterile injecting equipment, including needles and syringes, for each injection.
  • Elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (EMTCT): The transmission of HIV from an HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding is called vertical or mother-to-child transmission (MTCT).

Does my Insurance Policy cover the Treatment of HIV / AIDS?

No. According to CCHI unified Policy terms and conditions, health insurance policies in Saudi Arabia doesn't cover the treatment or any disease related to HIV/AIDS.

Please Click Here to access the Unified CCHI Policy Wordings.


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