Awareness, STIs

HIV and AIDS: ARE YOU AT RISK?

Mahube-Otwa Family Health Client Information/Fact Sheet
HIV and AIDS: ARE YOU AT RISK?
WHAT IS HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)? HIV is a virus that kills your body’s “CD4 cells.” CD4 cells (also called T-helper cells) help your body fight off infection and disease.
WHAT IS AIDS (the Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome)? AIDS is a disease you get when HIV destroys your body’s immune system. Your immune system helps you fight off illness. When your immune system fails, you can become very sick and can die.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIV? Anyone can get HIV. The most important thing to know is how you can get the virus. You can get HIV:
·   * By having unprotected sex – sex without a condom – with someone who has HIV.
·   * By sharing a needle and syringe to inject drugs or sharing drug equipment used to prepare drugs for injection with someone who has HIV.
·   * From a blood transfusion or blood clotting factor that you got before 1985. (Blood in the United States has been tested for HIV since 1985.)
·   * Babies born to women with HIV also can become infected during pregnancy, birth, or breast-feeding. *Mothers who are HIV positive can take a medication which helps to prevent their unborn child from getting HIV.
WHO CANNOT GET HIV? You cannot get HIV:
·   * From working with or being around someone who has HIV.
·   * From sweat, spit, tears, clothes, drinking fountains, phones, toilet seats, or through everyday activities like sharing a meal.
·   * From insect bites or stings.
·   * From donating blood.
·   * From a closed-mouth kiss (*There is a very small change of getting HIV from open-mouthed or ‘French’ kissing with an infected person because of possible blood contact.)
HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF?
·   * DO NOT share needles, syringes, or equipment used to prepare or inject drugs, steroids, vitamins, or for tattooing or body piercing.
·   * Abstain from sexual intercourse.
·   * Be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is uninfected.
·   * Use a male latex condom correctly and consistently. Incorrect use can lead to condom slippage or breakage, making condoms less protective. Not using condoms with every act of intercourse can lead to HIV and STDs (sexually transmitted disease), which can occur with a single act of unprotected intercourse. Condoms lubricated with spermicides are no more effective than other lubricated condoms in protecting against HIV and STDs.
·   * The more sex partners you have, the greater your changes are of getting HIV/STDs.
·   * DO NOT share razors or toothbrushes because of the possibility of contact with blood.
·   * If you are pregnant or think you might be soon, talk to a doctor or your local health department about being tested for HIV
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE HIV OR AIDS? You might have HIV and still feel perfectly healthy. HIV testing is the only way to know for sure if you are infected or not. Mahube-Otwa Family Health offers HIV testing, most commonly with a blood sample and always using a sterile needle. HIV testing at Mahube-Otwa Family Health is confidential. This means it can be shared only with people authorized to see your medical records. You may want to ask whether your insurance company could find out your HIV status if you make a claim for health insurance benefits or apply for life insurance or disability insurance.
You are more likely to test positive for (be infected with) HIV if you:
·   * Have ever shared injection drug needles and syringes or “works.”
·   * Have ever had sex without a condom with someone who had HIV.
·   * Have ever had a sexually transmitted disease, like Chlamydia or Gonorrhea.
·   * Received a blood transfusion or a blood clotting factor between 1978 and 1985.
·   * Have ever had sex with someone who has done any of those things.
WHAT CAN I DO IF THE TEST SHOWS I HAVE HIV? Although HIV is a very serious infection with no known cure at this time, many people with HIV and AIDS are living longer, healthier lives today thanks to new and effective treatments. It is very important that you have a clinician who has been specifically trained to treat HIV.
·   * If you are found to be HIV positive, it is vital that you completely avoid behaviors that could transmit this virus to others (see previous section).
·   * Pregnant women with HIV should start medication immediately to prevent transmission to their unborn baby.
WHAT IF MY HIV RESULTS ARE NEGATIVE? A negative HIV result DOES NOT guarantee that a person is free of infection. If someone is newly infected with the HIV virus, it can take up to 6 months for the test result to be HIV positive. It is recommended that follow-up testing be done at least 6 months after the risk behavior or exposure occurred.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HIV AND AIDS?
* You can call the CDC National AIDS Hotline at 1-800-342-2437 (Spanish/ Español: 1-800-344-7432) (TYY access: 1-800-243-7889). The Hotline is staffed with people trained to answer your questions about HIV and AIDS in a prompt and confidential manner. Staff at the Hotline can offer you a wide variety of written materials and put you in touch with organizations in your area.
* On the Internet, you can get information from the CDC Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention at www.cdc.gov/hiv. Other sources of information are the CDC National Prevention Information Network at www.cdcpin.org or AIDS information at www.aidsinfo.nih.gov
*Adapted from the CDC Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention 354 Revised 3/16

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