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   HIV / AIDS  

What is HIV/AIDS?

HIV stands for:


                            H = Human (only infects humans)

                             I = Immunodeficiency (causes the immune system to collapse)

                            V = Virus (a germ that gets into the body and has no cure)

The virus can enter the body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum or mouth during unprotected sex.  HIV is not a disease that selects certain individuals with certain characteristics, but it is a disease whose victims are those that engage in particular behaviors.

AIDS stands for:


                            A = Acquired (not genetic, passed from one person to another)

                             I = Immune (affects the immune system)

                            D = Deficiency (the body is not able to protect itself from infection)

                            S = Syndrome (a collection of different symptoms or diseases)


HIV Transmission

HIV is transmitted by four body fluids: 

  • Blood

  • Semen and Pre-Ejaculatory Fluid

  • Vaginal Secretions

  • Breast Milk 

To decrease transmission, keep these fluids away from:

  • Mouth

  • Penis / Vagina

  • Anus / Rectum

  • Cuts / Openings in the skin

HIV Risks 

Transmission can only occur by having direct contact with one or more of these fluids in such a way that causes them to enter directly into your bloodstream. Anytime you have direct contact with these risk fluids, you may have been "exposed" to HIV.

Risky activities include:

  • Unprotected sex (vaginal, oral, & anal)

  • Sharing needles / Injection of drugs

  • Babies born to HIV infected mothers

  • Blood transfusions (rare, but possible)


HIV Prevention

  • Donít share drug needles / drug works

  • Abstain from sex

  • Always ask partner's sexual history

  • Reduce number of sex partners

  • Always use a latex condom from start to finish during sex (vaginal, anal, & oral) If allergic to latex, use polyurethane (a type of plastic) condoms. If male condoms are not available, use female condoms

  • For oral sex, use protection such as a condom, dental dam (a square piece of latex used by dentists), or plastic food wrap. Do not reuse these items.

  • Use only water-based lubricants; do not use petroleum-based jelly, cold cream, baby oil, or other oils because they can weaken a condom and it may break

  • Avoid anal or rough vaginal intercourse

  • Keep sex toys for your own use only and donít use someone elseís sex toys

  • Keep razors or toothbrushes for yourself & donít use someone elseís razor or toothbrush


Source: "Living With HIV/AIDS," Brochure, Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 1998.

Sources:  Johns Hopkins Health Information/Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Frequently Asked Questions about HIV/AIDS Counseling & Testing

About half of the people with HIV develop AIDS within 10 years, but the time between infection with HIV and the onset of AIDS can very greatly from individual to individual.  This is why people who could had been exposed should get tested.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the following are questions some people might be asking themselves about HIV-antibody counseling and testing.


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