KINGSPORT, Tenn. - More than one million people are living with the HIV virus, but only one in five know they have it.
"Most people, they don't have symptoms, they're just exposed and remain okay until the disease advances and causes more complications," said Dr. Waseem Ahmed, a local infectious disease specialist.
HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, affects specific cells of the immune system. Over time it destroys the cells so the body can't fight off infections and disease. "If you do not get a treatment, it will progress towards AIDS," said Dr.Ahmed.
People at a higher risk of contracting the HIV virus are ones who have multiple sexual partners, intravenous drug users, sex workers, male-to-male partners and those who have had an STD in the past.
News 5 discovered HIV can be spread through bodily fluids in a variety of ways. Danita Mowl, director of Acute Care at Bristol Regional, says that can be tricky when it comes to expectant moms.
She tells us all expecting mothers should consider getting tested. "It's to find the positives of moms that are positive for HIV and then to prevent transmission to the newborn during delivery," said Mowl.
Dr.Ahmad tells us HIV is different than it was 15 years ago, and although there isn't a cure, it is a tolerable virus that many live with everyday without a problem.
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