- Seeking information about Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), a sexually transmitted disease.
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the cause of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
- The virus attacks a person's immune system, eventually making the person susceptible to a variety of different infections.
- Sharing needles or syringes.
- Having sexual intercourse (vagina, rectum, or oral) and not using a condom.
- Having sexual intercourse with someone who might have HIV.
Early HIV Infection
Many people have a flu-like illness when they first get HIV. Symptoms can include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
- AIDS is the last stage of HIV infection.
- It is diagnosed when a person has:
- A CD4 white blood cell count less than 200
- An opportunistic infection, which is any of a number of rare infections that normally do not occur in healthy persons.
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours If:
- You think you need to be seen
- You have been diagnosed with HIV and have any of the following:
- New or persisting headache
- Significant unplanned weight loss
- Persisting diarrhea
- Night sweats
- Cough lasting more than 3 days
- HIV is spread by any sexual behaviors (heterosexual or homosexual) that involve the exchange of certain body fluids, including vaginal fluids, semen, and blood. HIV can enter the body through the mouth, penis, vagina-vulva, and rectum.
- The following do not transmit HIV: saliva, tears, sweat or urine. There is no evidence that you can get HIV from kissing.
- HIV can be spread from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.
- HIV is also spread by sharing needles or syringes, for example, during injection of street drugs.
- All donated blood in the United States is screened for HIV so that receiving donated blood is considered safe and HIV transmission is very rare.
- Latex condoms are very effective at preventing HIV transmission during sexual intercourse.
How long does it usually take for symptoms to appear once one is exposed?
The incubation period for HIV is days to weeks. Symptoms nearly always appear within 3 months.
How can I get tested for HIV?
- HIV is diagnosed with a blood test. This test may be done anonymously (you are given the result without your name ever being known) or confidentially (through your own doctor).
- Anonymous testing sites can be located by calling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention AIDS Hotline at 1-800-342-AIDS. Whether done anonymously or confidentially, it is important that you share the information with your doctor.
What is the treatment for HIV?
- There is no known cure for HIV, but there are medications that can delay the onset of AIDS and keep a person feeling healthy for a long time.
STD National Hotline
- The CDC National STD Hotline provides information on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV/genital warts, herpes, and HIV/AIDS. Specialists can provide general information, referrals to local clinics, and written materials about STDs and disease prevention.
- Toll-free number (English): (800) 227-8922
- Toll-free number (Spanish): (800) 344-7432
- Their website is at: http://www.ashastd.org
Pregnancy test, when in doubt:
- If there is any possibility of pregnancy, obtain and use a urine pregnancy test from the local drug store.
- Follow the instructions included in the package.
Call Your Doctor If:
- Pregnancy test is positive or if you have difficulties with the home pregnancy test
- You want to get a HIV test
- You become worse