Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and AIDS

HIV is a deadly virus that is most commonly sexually transmitted via blood and breast milk. It cannot be transmitted through urine or sweat. It can be contracted by having unprotected sex (having sex without using a condom or other barrier sexual protection method) with an infected person. It is also possible to become infected with HIV through having oral sex or using sex toys, but the risk is very low. (1 in 5,000). (Source NHS England.) (Opens in a new window.)

HIV can also be contracted by sharing infected intravenous needles or by blood transfusion. Mothers can pass the virus to their children through childbirth and breastfeeding. HIV can now be managed with multiple drug therapy but there is no cure.

AIDS is the last stage of HIV, where the body has no resistance to any infection. Most people now do not go on to develop AIDS.

You may be at a greater risk of becoming infected with HIVAIDS if you make more high risk life style choices. These may include higher number of sexual partners or using sex workers in ports. If you have any concerns about HIV, please talk to a Mission port chaplain.

Some Seafarers' Centres around the world hold Drop-In Meetings about HIV which are completely confidential. It is essential that you are very careful with your sexual health and seek help as soon as you can or you are worried about having had unprotected sex.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

STIs are a very common problem worldwide which vary in severity. The are passed to one person to another by sex or genital contact. The most common STIs are:

  • Chlamydia
  • Genital warts
  • Genital herpes
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Tichomoniasis
  • Pubic lice
  • Scabies
  • Syphilis
  • HIV/AIDS - see above.

If you suspect that you have an STI, stop sexual activity and seek medical advice immediately. If you are tested and diagnosed with any STI, you must tell your partner or partners, so that they too can be tested and prevent the spread of infection.

To prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and STIs, practice safe sex - use condoms and reduce your number of sexual partners. Status for employment based on HIV or STI status is already illegal in many countries. If you are denied employment because your are HIV positive, this should be challenged by your union if you have one. (Source. International Transport Workers' Federation website.) (Opens in a new window.)