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Health Matters Newsletter

Student Health Center
State University of New York
Fredonia, NY 14063

Location:LoGrasso Hall

Phone: (716) 673-3131

Fax: (716) 673-4722


Office Hours

Academic Year

8:00 am-5:00 pm M-F


8:00 am-4:00 pm M-F


H1N1 Flu: What you should know!

HIV versus AIDS: The Difference and How to Prevent It!

By: John Gradel 

What are the differences between AIDS and HIV?

What is HIV?

HIV stands for 'human immunodeficiency virus'. HIV is a virus (of the type called retrovirus) that infects cells of the human immune system (mainly CD4 positive T cells and macrophages—key components of the cellular immune system), and destroys or impairs their function. Infection with this virus results in the progressive deterioration of the immune system, leading to 'immune deficiency'. The immune system is considered deficient when it can no longer fulfill its role of fighting off infections and diseases. Immunodeficient people are more susceptible to a wide range of infections, most of which are rare among people without immune deficiency. Infections associated with severe immunodeficiency are known as 'opportunistic infections', because they take advantage of a weakened immune system.

What is AIDS?

AIDS stands for 'acquired immunodeficiency syndrome' and is a surveillance definition based on signs, symptoms, infections, and cancers associated with the deficiency of the immune system that stems from infection with HIV.

What are the symptoms of HIV?

-Most people infected with HIV do not know that they have become infected, because they do not feel ill immediately after infection. However, some people at the time of seroconversion develop “Acute retroviral syndrome” which is a glandular fever-like illness with fever, rash, joint pains and enlarged lymph nodes.

-Seroconversion refers to the development of antibodies to HIV and usually takes place between 1 and 6 weeks after HIV infection has happened.

-Whether or not HIV infection causes initial symptoms, an HIV-infected person is highly infectious during this initial period and can transmit the virus to another person. The only way to determine whether HIV is present in a person's body is by testing for HIV antibodies or for HIV itself.

-After HIV has caused progressive deterioration of the immune system, increased susceptibility to infections may lead to symptoms.

-HIV is staged on the basis of certain signs, symptoms, infections, and cancers grouped

by the World Health Organization (WHO).


  •  Primary HIV infection - may be asymptomatic or experienced as Acute retroviral
  •  Clinical stage 1 - asymptomatic or generalized swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Clinical stage 2 - includes minor weight loss, minor mucocutaneous manifestations, and recurrent upper respiratory tract infections
  • Clinical stage 3 - includes unexplained chronic diarrhea, unexplained persistent fever, oral candidacies or leukoplakia, severe bacterial infections, pulmonary tuberculosis, and acute nectrotizing inflammation in the mouth.  Some persons with clinical stage 3 have AIDS.
  • Clinical stage 4 - includes 22 opportunistic infections or cancers related to HIV.  All persons with clinical stage 4 have AIDS.    

Most of these conditions are opportunistic infections that can be treated easily in healthy people.

How quickly do people infected with HIV develop AIDS?

The length of time can vary widely between individuals. The majority of people infected with HIV, if not treated, develop signs of HIV-related illness within 5-10 years, but the time between infection with HIV and being diagnosed with AIDS can be 10–15 years, sometimes longer. Antiretroviral therapy can slow down disease progression to AIDS by decreasing the infected person’s viral load. WHO recommends initiation of antiretroviral therapy for all HIV-infected adolescents and adults who are at clinical stage 4 or have a CD4 positive T cell count below 200 per mm3, and for some persons who are at clinical stage 3.

Information was acquired from:

December 2009
HIV and AIDS : What you should know...

Welcome to the December 2009 issue of the Health Matters Newsletter, published monthly by the Health Center and part of the weekly Campus Report.  It's purpose is to share information regarding pertinent medical issues with students, faculty and staff here at SUNY Fredonia.  December is "AIDs Awareness Month", and our topics will include:

AIDS: What you should know

HIV versus AIDS: The Difference and How to Prevent it!

How to get involved in AIDS prevention?


AIDS:  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 virus (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 always 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/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

Want to get more involved with AIDS prevention?


Third Annual Chautauqua County AIDS Walk

December 5th, 2009

Steele Hall

12:00-3:00 PM


Why Help?
This year, all proceeds from donations, fundraising, and registration will go to Partners in Health. Please check out our links for more information on the organization!

It's inside?
YES! This year the walk will be held INSIDE! So no more worrying about what the weather will be like.

What is the event?
There will be countless activities going on during the event, including raffles, dancing, and killer live music. Also, a few campus organizations will have tables of their own to do whatever they please with.

How can I register?
Pre-registration ends on Friday November 20, 2009 but you can register any time before the event as well as the day of. You can get a registration packet from any STEPS member. If you don't know anyone in STEPS, please e-mail and they will be sure to get you a registration packet. Want to save money with registration? Get your friends together and form a team!

Any questions?


Page modified 12/7/15