40,000 people in the US, are diagnosed
with HIV every year
What is HIV/AIDS and how do you get it?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and it causes AIDS. HIV causes the body’s immune system to break down, and lose its protection against disease. It causes people to become sick and catch infections that normally would not affect them. AIDS is short for acquired immune deficiency syndrome and is the most advanced stage of HIV.
HIV is transmitted through body fluids like blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. HIV is most often spread: by having unprotected sex (without a condom) with someone who has HIV/AIDS; by sharing needles or syringes with someone with HIV/AIDS; deep puncture wound from an HIV/AIDS contaminated needle or surgical instrument; getting HIV-infected fluids into open wounds or sores.
What are the symptoms of HIV and AIDS?
- The early symptoms are very mild and are often dismissed. Within a few weeks of HIV infection, flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, and fatigue can occur
- Rash is also a common symptom of HIV, and may appear as a flat red patch with small bumps, and skin may become flaky. The skin can become extremely sensitive to irritants and sunlight
- As the disease progresses fatigue, frequent infections weight loss, fever or night sweats are signs of HIV-positive status
- Bacterial and yeast infections may be more common in women who are HIV-positive
- The most advanced stage of HIV is called AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). In the later stages, HIV can lead to short-term memory loss, mental confusion, and coma.
Do I need to get tested for HIV?
YES! The sooner you get tested the better. If you think you have been exposed to HIV either through unprotected sex or needle sharing, get tested right away. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS but there are treatments that help people manage their disease. Many people don’t know they have the virus because the symptoms feel like the flu.
Private HIV testing is done by specially trained staff that is sensitive to your worries and needs. Blood is drawn at medical laboratory. The results come back within 2 days, and will only be shared with you. If the results are positive, the staff will refer you for counseling and treatment.
What is the treatment for HIV/AIDS?
People that are HIV/AIDS-positive take a combination of medicines called “cocktails.” The combination of drugs help strengthen the immune system, and are designed to keep relieve symptoms and keep HIV from developing into AIDS. They only work for some people, and they only work for a limited period of time. The drugs are very expensive, and may not be available to everyone. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS.
How do I prevent getting or spreading HIV/AIDS?
- If you are sexually active, know your sexual partner and always use a condom. The best protection is abstaining from sex
- Never share needles If you are using steroids, hormones, or other drugs
- Don’t share personal items like toothbrushes and blades that have blood on them
- People with open sores from herpes and other genital infections get HIV more easily than others