HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. No effective cure exists for HIV. But with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. Some groups of people in the United States are more likely to get HIV than others because of many factors, including their sex partners, their risk behaviors, and where they live. This section will give you basic information about HIV, such as how it’s transmitted, how you can prevent it, and how to get tested for HIV.
In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by:
Having anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV.
Sharing needles or syringes, rinse water, or other equipment (“works”) used to prepare injection drugs with someone who has HIV. HIV can live in a used needle up to 42 days depending on temperature and other factors.
1 in 7 people are living with HIV in the US and are unaware of their infection.
HIV IS NOT TRANSMITTED BY
How do I know if I have HIV?
Some people may experience a flu-like illness within 2-4 weeks after HIV infection. But some people may not feel sick during this stage. Flu-like symptoms can include:
FEVER • CHILLS • RASH • NIGHT SWEATS • MUSCLE ACHES • SORE THROAT
FATIGUE • SWOLLEN LYMPH NODES • MOUTH ULCERS
These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. During this time, HIV infection may not show up on an HIV test, but people who have it are highly infectious and can spread the infection to others. You should not assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptoms. Each of these symptoms can be caused by other illnesses. And some people who have HIV do not show any symptoms at all for 10 years or more.
THE ONLY WAY TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE HIV IS TO GET TESTED!
If you feel you have been exposed to HIV, make an appointment now.