AIDS - December 2007
What you should know.......
What is AIDS?
Over the past century, AIDS has become more noteworthy due to it's prevalence in American Society. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a preventable, life-threatening illness caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency vvirus (HIV). With time, the infection with HIV causes you to lose your ability to fight off serious infection. When this happens, HIV infection becomes AIDS.
Who is at risk for developing AIDS?
If you are infected with HIV, you can pass the virus to other people even when you may have no sign of illness. The virus can be spread by contact with your blood or semen. It can also be spread to babies by breast milk if the mother is infected with the virus. People close to you are not at increased risk if they do not have sexual contact with your or contact with your blood.
IV drug users and people receiving blood transfusions are also at higher risk of being exposed to the virus through infected blood. Since the mid-1980's, in North American , it is standard practice to test all donated blood for the HIV virus, therefore, decreasing the risk of infection through receiving a blood transfusion.
Men and women can transmit the HIV virus sexually. The virus has been found in semen and vaginal secretions. Both vaginal and oral intercourse can spread the HIV virus. Anal intercourse and intercourse with numerous partners can increase the risk of getting AIDS.
The following groups are at a high risk for contracting an HIV infection and possibly developing AIDS:
-sexually active homosexual males
-bisexual men and their partners
-IV drug users and their sexual partners
-people who share needles such as IV drug us, tattooing, or piercing
-heterosexual men and women with more than one sexual partner
-people given blood transfusions prior to the mid 1980's
-immigrants from areas with many cases of AIDS such as Haiti and east central Africa
-people who have sex without using a latex or polyurethane condom
-babies born to HIV infected mothers
Who should be tested for HIV?
A person should be tested for HIV if:
-You are or were in a high-risk group listed above.
-You have ever had unprotected sex and have not been tested.
-You are or plan to become pregnant .
Where can I get tested for HIV?
Ask you health care provider where you can get the test. Many community health centers, family planning clinics, hospitals, STD clinics and county health departments offer the testing. Or you may call the Centers for Disease control National AIDS Hotline at 1-800-342-AIDS to find a testing center near you. The SUNY Fredonia Student Health Center frequently run clinics for HIV testing. These clinics will be announced via email to students, staff and faculty.
What do the test results mean?
If your test is negative, it means you have not been infected with the AIDS virus before 2 to 6 months ago. As long as you do not engage in any high-risk activity and alway practice safe sex, you have almost no risk of becoming HIV positive or developing AIDS. If you are or were at high risk, you should speak with your health care provider as to how often you should be retested.
If your test is positive, a second test will be done to confirm that you are infected with the HIV virus.
How can I prevent giving HIV to others?
If you are infected with HIV, you should take the following precautions to avoid spreading the virus to others:
- Avoid sexual and other high-risk activities, such as sharing needles. Often, people with HIV can give the virus to others before they know that they are infected. Safe sex should always be practiced to help prevent the spread of infection.
-If you are sexually active, you should engage only in safe sex. Avoid exposure to blood and sexual secretions during sex. This means:
-Avoid vaginal and anal intercourse unless condoms are used.
-Avoid oral-genital sex without condoms.
-Avoid oral-anal sex
-Avoid getting semen or blood in cuts or in the eyes
-Do not donate blood, plasma or semen
-Do not plan to donate organs. ( If you were previously planning to donate organs, have that statement removed from your driver's license.
-Do not share or reuse IV needles and syringes. Boiling does not guarantee sterility of needles or syringes.
-Do not use nitrate inhalants (poppers).
-Do not share razors, toothbrushes, or anything that could be contaminated with body fluids or bloods.
-Tell your health car providers that you are HIV positive.
-If you work in a dental, medical or other health care professional and perform invasive procedures or have skin sores, use latex gloves to protect patients from risk of infection.
-Get medical checkups at least once a year, or more often if your health care provider recommends it or if you have symptoms that suggest AIDS.
For more information about HIV and AIDS:
Contact the National AIDS Hotline at 1-800-342-2437