Sunday, September 22, 2013 – Myriad Gardens
"Each Step Brings Hope"
What is HIV? What is AIDS?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus which causes AIDS. HIV is a virus that kills the body’s CD4 cells. CD4 cells help a body fight off infection and disease. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the result of an HIV infection and is the most advance stage of HIV. AIDS is determined by a HIV-infected person having a CD4 cell count less than 200 and/or presence of an indicator disease. AIDS can only be diagnosed by a physician. There is no cure for HIV or AIDS.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV can only be spread person to person. HIV is transmitted through only four body fluids: blood, breast milk, semen, and vaginal fluids. HIV enters the body through a mucous membrane (ears, eyes, nose, mouth, penis, anus, or vaginal) or a break/cut in the skin. The most common activities which place a person at risk are:
- Having sexual intercourse (oral, anal, or vaginal) with someone infected with HIV
- Sharing of needles and syringes with someone infected with HIV
- A baby being exposed to HIV before or during birth or through breast feeding
How is HIV not transmitted?
HIV cannot be transmitted through everyday activities such as hugging, shaking hands, or casual kissing. Also, a person cannot become infected from a door knob, toilet seat, drinking glass, water fountain, silverware or dishes. HIV is not transmitted to humans from animals or mosquitoes.
How can I protect myself?
If a person does not know his or her HIV status, he or she should get tested for HIV. A person can greatly reduce his or her risk for HIV. Abstaining (or refraining) from sexually intercourse, and also from sharing of needles and syringes, is the surest way to avoid transmission of HIV. If a person is sexually active, he or she should use a latex condom or barrier each and every time he/she has sex. Anyone who uses needles should avoid sharing them. If a person does share, disinfect all syringes with bleach immediately before and after each use by cleaning them two times with bleach and rinse them three times with water.
How do I know if I am HIV positive?
There are no signs or symptoms for HIV. The only way to know if someone is infected is by getting an HIV test. The average HIV test checks the body for HIV antibodies – organisms the immune system makes after infection.
How do I get an HIV test?
HIV tests can use blood or saliva to detect HIV infection. Some tests take a few days or weeks for results, but rapid HIV tests can give results in about 20 minutes. All positive HIV tests must be followed up by another test to confirm the positive result.