HPV and HIV are two different viruses that cause sexual health and other health problems.

HPV

HPV or the human papilloma virus affect the skin and moist membranes around it. The virus can cause problems that include genital warts, verrucas, and abnormal cell mutations in the cervix. HPV can be spread by any skin-to-skin contact of the genital area, vaginal, anal or oral sex, and also sharing any toys that are designed for adults. HPV has no symptoms, so you may not know if you have it. It is also a very common virus, and most people will get some type of it in their life.

Prevention

You can protect yourself against the HPV virus by using condoms, however they do not cover all your genitals, meaning that you are not completely protected. There is also an HPV vaccine that protects against the types of HPV that cause most of genital warts and cervical cancer. However this does not even prevent you from contacting all forms of HPV.

Treatment

Currently there is no treatment for HPV, however most HPV infections do not cause any problems and are usually cleared within two years.

HIV

HIV or human immunodeficiency virus is a viral infection that attacks the immune system. The infection itself can lead to AIDS; although with early diagnosis and treatment, most people don’t go on to develop AIDS.

HIV is very damaging for your immune system, weakening your ability to fight everyday infections and disease.

AIDS or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and is the name used to describe a number of potentially life-threatening illnesses that infect you when your immune system has been damaged by HIV.

AIDS itself cannot be transmitted from one person to another, however the HIV virus can. Currently there is no cure for HIV, but there are very effective treatments that can give people who have the virus a better quality of life. In fact, if you are diagnosed early with HIV, most people will not develop AIDS-related illnesses, and will also live an almost normal lifespan.

Causes of HIV

HIV is found in the fluids of an infected person, this includes semen, vaginal fluid, anal fluid, breast milk and the blood. HIV is a fragile virus, and does not survive out of the body that long.

The most common way that HIV is transmitted in the UK is through unprotected sex. It cannot be transferred through sweat, urine or saliva. Other ways in which HIV is spread includes; sharing needles, and mother-to-child transmission through birth, and breastfeeding.

Preventing HIV

Preventing HIV is very straight forward, and just like other sexually transmitted diseases the best way to prevent it is through wearing a condom during sexual activity.

Treating HIV

There are antiretroviral medicines that can treat HIV. These work by stopping the virus from replicating, allowing your immune system to repair itself. These usually come in a tablet form that needs to be taken every day.

HIV is able to develop a resistance to some tablets, some it is advised to take a combination of medicines every day.

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