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The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV attacks the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness and leaving infected people vulnerable to opportunistic infections and cancers. The Media Roomn time from infection to the development of full blown AIDS symptoms exceeds 10 years. AIDS is fatal if untreated. Fortunately, now there are effective treatments available for AIDS, which allow people to live longer and symptom-free. There is as yet no cure for AIDS, so prevention is still the best strategy. Infants of infected mothers can now be protected from getting AIDS by treating the mother with an anti-AIDS drug while she is pregnant.

HIV is transmitted through

  • unprotected sexual intercourse
  • needle-sharing
  • pregnancy, delivery and through breast feeding (from an infected mother to her infant)
  • occupational exposure in the health care setting

Canadian Blood Services tests every donation for HIV. There are two HIV tests used for screening donor samples:

  • An antibody test, which detects the body’s immune response to HIV;
  • Nucleic Acid Test (NAT assay), which detects the actual HIV virus (implemented in May 2001).

Only blood that passes both of these tests is distributed to hospitals

Health Canada Resource

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