Are you at risk for HIV?

The old adage prevention is better than cure holds true for HIV/AIDS

With today being National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, it is timely to re-look the risks associated with this terrible affliction.

HIV is contagious and untreatable. Unfortunately, anyone can get infected. However, some people are more prone to this disease. AIDS or stage three HIV develops when HIV has caused serious damage to the immune system.

In addition to sex workers and those with alternative lifestyles, this article provides you information about other high-risk groups.

Injection drug users (IDUs)

Injection drug users are at a greater risk of getting HIV since they may share needles, syringes and other injection equipment.

These materials may contain blood so if a person has HIV, the virus can be transmitted via infected blood to other healthy individuals.

Injecting drugs can also increase sex drive, thus, users may be more likely to indulge in sexually risky behaviour. They tend to have sex without protection.

They may also have sex with sex workers or with several partners. Or, they themselves may become sex workers to earn money to feed a drug addiction.

Studies show that younger adults have a higher risk of HIV infection since injection drug users are usually younger adults.

Stigma and other social factors can prevent injection drug users from seeking medical help like a HIV test, medical care or treatment.

Ethnic minorities

Although HIV can affect anyone of any race, some people are more vulnerable than others. This may be because some groups have more people living with HIV. Thus, the risk of transmission is exponentially higher and the number of new infections can increase.

For example for ethnic minorities social, economic, and demographic problems such as stigma, poor income, low education, discrimination, or the long distance between their homes and healthcare centres can also affect their chance of getting HIV and prevent them from receiving proper care and treatment.

Incarcerated population

It is estimated that people who are incarcerated have an increased risk of HIV. This may be because there is a lack of information about HIV.

Most incarcerated people get infected because they do not know how to protect themselves in prisons where they might engage in high-risk behaviour.

Besides, those incarcerated are more likely to contract HIV because there is a lack of HIV supportive services.

The inmates may be unable to get tested and treated for HIV where early detection and treatment can help reduce the rate of HIV.

Some inmates are afraid of being stigmatized so they will not reveal their HIV high-risk behaviour such as injection drug use or unprotected sex. They do not know that getting infected is far more dangerous than the stigma.

People with STIs or unprotected sex

People who have sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, herpes, or bacterial vaginosis may have open sores on their genitals and HIV can pass through these wounds and get to the blood vessels, causing infection.

People who have sex without protection can have a greater risk of HIV infection. Having anal sex or having sex with more than one partner can also increase the chance of getting the viruses.

Although anyone can contract HIV, certain segments of the population such as those practicing alternative lifestyles, sex workers, IDUs, or ethnic minorities are more likely to get infected.

Getting to know more about your potential risk can help you protect yourself against these deadly viruses.

The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.