What do you know about HIV/AIDS?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus spread through certain bodily fluids:
- Semen (cum and pre-cum)
- Rectal fluids
- Vaginal fluids
- Breast milk
HIV is not transmitted by:
- Air or water
- Saliva, sweat or tears
- Closed-mouth kissing
- Insects or pets
- Sharing toilets, food or drinks
HIV attacks the body’s immune system, specifically CD4 cells, often called T cells, whose job it is to fight off infection and disease.
There is no cure for HIV, but with medical care HIV can be controlled. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy. If this is taken shortly after contraction every day, it can prolong the lives of people with HIV by keeping them healthy and lowers the chances of infecting others. HIV positive patients who are being treated can live a similar lifespan as someone who does not have HIV.
Without treatment, HIV can progress to the most severe stage of infection: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). People with AIDS have a severely damaged immune system and can catch an increasing number of severe illnesses; called opportunistic illnesses. People with AIDS who receive no treatment typically survive about 3 years.
Ways to prevent HIV infection:
- Abstinence (not having sex)
- Limiting your number of sexual partners
- Never injecting drugs and sharing needles or “works”
- Always use condoms the right way every time you have sex
- You may be able to take medication (Truvada) for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)
If you are living with HIV, you can prevent passing it to others. The most important step is to take medication the right way, every day to treat HIV and greatly reduce your chances of transmitting HIV to your partners.
The only way to know if you have HIV is to be tested. Knowing your HIV status helps you make choices that prevent you from getting HIV or from transmitting HIV. To get an HIV test:
- Ask your provider
- Visit gettested.cdc.gov
- Text KNOWIT (566948) with your zip code in the message
- Call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
- Visit hiv.gov
Who should get an HIV test:
- Everyone between the ages of 13 to 64 should have at least one test in their lifetime
- Pregnant women or thinking about becoming pregnant
- Men who have sex with other men
- Anyone having sex with an HIV positive partner
- Anyone who had sex with more than one partner since their last HIV test
- Anyone having injected drugs and shared needles or “works” (water or cotton) with others
- Anyone exchanging sex for drugs or money
- Anyone who has been diagnosed or sought treatment for another sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Anyone diagnosed with hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)
- Anyone who has had sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above or someone whose sexual history you do not know
You should be tested at least once a year if you continue to do any of the above.
Sexually active gay or bisexual men would benefit from more frequent testing (every 3 to 6 months).
Before having sex with a new partner you should both be tested.
For more information, please visit: cdc.gov/hivrisk/estimator
Call (405) 948-4900 ext. 469 for more information or to schedule your appointment.