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HIV testing is now very accurate, but it is important to realise that HIV tests need repeating and can occasionally be wrong.There are two main ways of testing for HIV: indirect and direct.Dr Patrick Dixon explains about HIV symptoms: what happens when someone is infected with HIV. Dr Dixon is a physician and founder of the international AIDS agency ACET, with prevention and care programmes in many of the poorest nations. Why some people get infected with HIV and not others.Swallowed virus particles are kept first in the mouth by gum and cheek linings, and do not enter the blood unless you have mouth sores or cracked lips, then in the continuous pipe we call the gut. They cannot enter the blood once they enter the stomach.Virus particles inside your gut tubing are no more a part of your body than a plastic bead pushed up your nose.Other routes are extremely rare, except infection through untested blood in some developing countries, broken or faulty equipment, or inadequate supplies of reagents.
These are very specific to HIV, like a spanner shaped to fit a nut. Results are usually confirmed using a second test called Western Blot, but can be confirmed in some cases by a second slightly different ELISA test.A number of different fragments of viruses are separated and `blotted' onto a special surface which is then cut into strips and exposed to the serum sample.Core proteins (p24, p55 and p17) and envelope proteins (gp120, gp160 and gp41) are used.White cells in saliva carry the virus in up to nine out of ten people with AIDS.The virus needs to enter the body to cause infection.
(See question on communion cup below.) Urine will not usually contain much virus unless there is a urine infection.