Important facts about HIV

Learn the truth about HIV.

11 Important facts about HIV.

More than 18% of our population is HIV-positive.“South Africa is home to the world’s largest epidemic”- Unicef

We are probably all aware of the shocking statistics like this one surrounding HIV, but real knowledge and awareness are not good enough among our younger people and South African adults probably don’t know as much as they should.

It’s easy to become complacent about, and indifferent to, the information that seeks to educate South Africans around HIV. Here are some facts about HIV that may not have hit your radar yet:


  1. HIV damages a person’s body by destroying specific blood cells, called CD4+T cells, which are vital in helping the body fight diseases.1
  2. HIV can survive in dried blood at room temperature for up to six days, or for weeks if wet, such as in used syringes or needles.1
  3. Two strains of HIV have been identified: HIV-1 (from the Central Common Chimpanzee) and HIV-2 (from the Sooty Mangabey monkey). HIV-1 is more dangerous, more easily transmitted, and is the cause of the vast majority of global HIV infections. HIV-2 is harder to transmit and is mainly confined to West Africa. 1
  4. The earliest known case of infection with HIV-1 in a human was detected in a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 1
  5. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. AIDS is defined by the occurrence of any of more than 20 opportunistic infections or cancers, or when a person’s CD4 (T-cell) count is less than 200. 1
  6. People with HIV have a harder time than healthy individuals recognising fear in the faces of others. The trouble with emotional recognition may be caused by damage to the brain from the virus. 1
  7. Those affected by HIV are more likely to age prematurely. The prevailing theory is that early ageing is caused mainly by chronic inflammation caused by HIV even during antiretroviral treatment. 1
  8. It is predicted that HIV will continue to increase because people are living longer with the disease due to the benefits of life-prolonging treatments. As more people with HIV live longer, the opportunities for transmission increase. Additionally, many people have grown complacent about HIV. 1
  9. Timothy Ray Brown was the first person in the world to have been considered “cured” of HIV after having a stem cell transplant to treat leukaemia. Timothy Ray Brown died in September 2020.
  10. It took HIV less than 10 years to spread across the globe. 1
  11. About a month after contracting HIV, some people will develop flu-like symptoms. These symptoms often go away within a week or a month. After this initial response, a person can have HIV for years before feeling ill.
  12. South Africa was the first country in the world to offer life insurance to people living with HIV.
  13. AllLife offers specialised life insurance and disability cover to people living with HIV through their affordable, accessible policies.

Understand more about HIV and how to live a happy, healthy life when you are HIV-positive. 

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Sources: n.d. Factretriever.Com | Interesting Facts For The Curious Mind. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 10 December 2020]. n.d. UNICEF. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 10 December 2020].

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