Learn More About HIV
- People who have HIV in their bodies have HIV infection or HIV
- You may not know you have it
- HIV is a disease with many stages
- There may be no symptoms
- There may be a few symptoms
- There may be many serious symptoms
- You may have HIV for many years without feeling or looking sick
- You may not know you have HIV
- You can still pass the virus on to others
What HIV Does to Your Body:
- Over time, HIV damages the body’s immune system
- The immune system protects the body from disease
- When the immune system gets very weak other diseases and infections can enter the body
This stage of HIV is called AIDS
- HIV lives in semen, vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk of a person with HIV
- It can be passed from person to person through these infected fluids
- During vaginal, oral or anal sex
- Sharing needles and equipment to inject drugs
- Needles used for tattoos and piercing or to inject vitamins or steroids
- From a mother to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding
- From needle-stick injuries to health workers caring for people with HIV
HIV Is Not Passed By
- Donating blood
- Hugging, dry kissing, or sharing food
- Telephones, toilet seats, towels, or eating utensils
- Tears, saliva, sweat, or urine
- Mosquitoes or other insects
How to be Protected
- Use a new latex condom and water-based lubricant every time for vaginal or anal sex
- Don’t use oil-based lubricants. Hand creams, massage oils, Vaseline, etc., can cause condom breakage.
- For oral sex on a man, use a new latex condom every time.
- For oral sex on a woman or oral/anal sex on a man or woman, use a barrier such as a dental dam, a latex condom cut and rolled out flat, or plastic food wrap. Use a new barrier each time.
- People who are allergic to latex can use plastic (polyurethane) condoms. These come in both male and female styles.
- Don’t have sex when you’re drunk or high. Using alcohol or other drugs affects judgment and can lead to unsafe sex.
If you test positive:
- A confirmed positive test means you have HIV. Positive results are almost 100% accurate.
- If you test HIV positive, find a health care provider who knows about HIV right away. Early treatment can help you stay healthy longer.
- Services for people with HIV include help with health care, income, food and legal services.
If you test negative:
- A negative test means no HIV antibodies were in your body at the time of the test.
- This MAY mean you don’t have HIV.
- A negative test might also mean you have HIV, but your body hasn’t made HIV antibodies yet.
- Get tested again at least 3 months after any risky behavior.
Who will know your results
Most test centers offer confidential testing.
- Your rest result is told only to you but it is also put into your medical file. Ask who has access to this file.
Some test centers offer anonymous testing.
- You are the only one who sees your test result. You use a code name or number to get your result.
Home testing is anonymous.
- HIV antibody home testing kits can be purchased at a pharmacy.
- You mail a blood sample for testing along with a code name or number
- Results are given by phone when you call and give your code.