Q. If a man is circumcised and he has unprotected sex with a woman who has HIV, can he still get the virus?

Being circumcised helps protect you from HIV but it does not protect you 100 per cent. You can still get HIV from a person who is positive. However, men who are circumcised are better protected against getting the virus Always use a condom whether you are circumcised or not.

Q. Whenever we speak about the African continent and HIV, why do researchers always say Sub-Saharan Africa and not just Africa?

When discussing HIV and AIDS on the continent, we do not include the 5 Arab states that exist in North Africa. These are Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.IMG 1959


Q. What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

HIV and AIDS are often written together like this HIV/AIDS. This is grammatically incorrect; they do not mean the same thing. HIV is the virus that lives in your body. This virus attacks our immune system. You can not get rid of HIV once you have it ( there is however, one recorded case of Timothy Brown who has been cured of HIV through a bone marrow transplant). Please see blog posted "The Extraordinary case of the Berlin Patient.

AIDS is a collection of diseases that attack your body because the immune system is exhausted from fighting HIV. These diseases include TB, Karposi Sarcoma, etc.

Q. Why do women get HIV more than men? Is it true that they are getting the virus 3 times more than men?

Women are getting HIV more than men. There is no big reason for this. Rather it is simply biology ; women's bodies are designed differently to men's. Women are designed to carry and procreate; men are designed to deposit their sperm inside women. Women's vaginas are there to accept sperm and sadly there is a repercussion - women are getting HIV more than men. Yes, it is 3 times more than men.

Q. In South Africa which province has the highest number of people with HIV and which has the lowest?

KZN has the highest infection rate and Western Cape the lowest.

Q. What age group is proportionately infected with HIV?

15-24 year olds.

Q. How does a pregnant mother transfer HIV to her baby? Is this easy to do?

Mother-to-child transmission is shortened and we call it MTCT.
A mother can pass HIV during her pregnancy. Nowadays, mothers  with HIV are put onto ARVs (medication to slow down the virus and keep the immune system healthy) while pregnant as this acts as an effective barrier to prevent the baby from getting the virus directly from the mother.

Another way is during natural child delivery. Again, we have fought this battle and won- mothers who have HIV are given a dose of an ARV called  Nevirapine to protect the new born baby from getting HIV. The baby is also given a few drops of an ARV to further protect him/her.

A mother can also give her baby HIV if she is breast feeding for a prolonged period of time. The rule is that 'breast is best' and that a mother who has HIV must not mix feed, that is, no food, formula, tea in conjunction with the breast milk. She must breast feed exclusively. Once she introduces solids or formula, she must stop breast feeding. The period that doctors and experts recommend is that for 6 months mothers can exclusively breast feeding.

If she continues to breast feed with mixed feeding, the baby has a higher chance of getting HIV.

It is not easy for a mother to transmit HIV to her child if she is on ARVs, nor in delivery if she is on ARVs. With breastfeeding if she is breastfeeding exclusively the baby will not get HIV easily. Only with mixed feeding does the risk get bigger if the mother continues to breast feed.