Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Anal or vaginal sexual intercourse and illicit
injectable drug use commonly transmit HIV. Infected mothers may also transmit
HIV to their child during pregnancy or
breastfeeding. Less common routes of transmission include
needle-stick injuries or exposure to contaminated blood.
The blood supply in
the United States is tested for HIV before use, and statistics show the risk of
acquiring HIV infection from a transfusion is less than one in 1.5 million.
attacks the immune system, especially cells known as CD-4 lymphocytes. Serious
impairment of the CD-4 lymphocytes makes people susceptible to specific
infections and cancers.
Untreated HIV infected progresses through three stages,
with stage three being AIDS.
Health-care professionals diagnose HIV with tests that measure antibodies
against the virus or measure the virus directly.
Treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART or ART) dramatically increases life
expectancy although it does not cure HIV infection.
What is the human immunodeficiency virus?
The human immunodeficiency
virus is the cause of HIV infection and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
(AIDS). HIV belongs to a family of organisms known as retroviruses. Once someone
virus, it attaches to and enters human cells, especially cells known
as CD4 T-cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells. The virus contains RNA, which
it transcribes into DNA using an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. The
resulting DNA integrates into the human genome in the cell. In this way, the
virus fools the human genome into making more copies of the virus.
HIV may remain quiescent (latent) in the genome or may be actively
transcribed, causing the virus to replicate. HIV is a prolific virus and is able
to create trillions of copies of itself in a short period of time. During times
of peak viral reproduction, even 1 milliliter of blood can contain more than
1 million copies of the virus. Many of these copies differ in small ways from
the original virus and may be resistant to different medications. There are two
types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is the primary cause of HIV
infection and AIDS in the world. HIV-2 is less common and less easily
Unprotected Sex Between HIV-Infected Partners: What's the Harm?
At least once a week, I am asked by one of my HIV-infected patients whether they need to continue to practice safe sex if they are in a monogamous (one mate only) relationship with an HIV-infected partner. Put another way, since both partners already have HIV, what's the harm of unprotected sex? Actually, this is not an easy question to answer fully.