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Human Immunodeficiency Virus

(Hu-man IM-une-oh-dee-fish-in-see Vy-russ)

Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that causes AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. HIV is in an infected person’s body fluids and can be passed to others through vaginal, anal and oral sex. If a person has an open sore and is exposed to an infected person’s body fluids, there is increased risk of transmission. For example, it can be passed through kissing if the infected person has open bleeding sores in their mouth. HIV is also transmitted through injection drug use if any drug equipment, such as, syringes or needles, is shared.

Individuals who are infected with STDs are at least two to five times more likely than uninfected individuals to acquire HIV infection if they are exposed to the virus through sexual contact because the irritated skin or mucous membrane allows the virus to enter into the system easier.

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District 4

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If you would like to get more information on testing, click here.

If you would like more information on HIV, click here.

What Are The Symptoms Of HIV Infection?

There are four stages of this infection. The first stage happens when a person first gets infected with HIV. These symptoms may include flu-like illness for approximately 2 weeks – fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, tiredness, body aches, sore throat, light sensitivity, diarrhea, and a rash on the upper body.

During the second stage the person has no symptoms – they feel normal again, but they are still infectious. This stage may occur for several months or years.

The third stage is when the early symptoms start and may come and go for several months to several years. These symptoms include fevers or night sweats, weight loss, diarrhea, persistent swollen lymph nodes, skin lesions or rashes, shingles – painful sores on the trunk of the body, and yeast/fungal infections of the skin.

The fourth stage is when a person is diagnosed with AIDS and can easily get ill with other infections and cancers because their body’s defenses have been weakened. Symptoms include, rapid weight loss, dry cough, shortness of breath which can lead to pneumonia, fever or night sweats, tiredness, diarrhea, fungal infections within the lungs and other body systems, visual changes, blemishes on the skin, memory loss, and depression. Death usually is caused by infection or because of a cancer because a person with AIDS is unable to fight off infections. People with AIDS can die from conditions that a healthy person’s body would clear.

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How Common Is HIV?

Many people would like to think that HIV/AIDS is a problem that doesn’t affect our community. Unfortunately that is not the case. Click on the map above for statistics.

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How Do I Know If I Have HIV?

If a person is exposed to HIV it can take up to 6-12 weeks before enough antibodies are present. Antibodies are what the body produces when it is exposed to an outside virus or bacteria. HIV can be screened for with an oral swab test. If the oral swab test is positive, a follow-up blood test must be performed to make sure the swab test result was not a false positive, which can be caused by many different factors. HIV is diagnosed with a blood test.

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Can HIV Be Cured?

There is currently no cure for HIV. There is a treatment called antiretroviral therapy. It is important if you are infected with HIV that you talk to your doctor, get regular health checkups and follow instructions given to you on medicines and ways to protect yourself and your partners. It is possible to give HIV to your baby if you are pregnant but this can be avoided if you take certain medicines. It is important to have a regular health care provider if you are positive with HIV.

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How Can I Keep From Getting Infected With HIV?

The best way to prevent getting HIV is to avoid contact with previously used needles or sharing any equipment used to inject drugs, and to not have sex. If you are sexually active you can reduce your risk of infection by being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected. You can also limit the number of sexual partners. Latex condoms, when used every time and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of HIV.

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Body Fluids: naturally-occurring substances that lubricate or are discharged from the body. The fluids typically associated with STD transmission include semen, vaginal fluids, blood, and breast milk.
Yeast/Fungal Infection: a curable inflamation on either mucous membranes or skin causing irritation and itching. Caused by a fungal organism
Shingles: painful blisters occurring on skin where nerves from the spine grow. Caused by the herpes zoster virus
Virus: a simple micro-organism or an extremely complex molecule that causes diseases people, plants and animals
Infectious: a person who is able to pass an infection on to someone else is said to be “Infectious.”
Lymph Nodes: small bean shaped organs found throughout the body. Lymph nodes are part of the immune system and act as traps that catch foreign particles. When diseases are present the Lymph Nodes may become enlarged and swollen.
Lesions: a general term used to describe any kind of abnormal tissue formed on or in an organism
AIDS: (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome) when a person with HIV has a t-cell count of 200 or less the individual is diagnosed with AIDS
Oral Swab Test: a quick and easy way to get tested for HIV. The test is done by swabbing the inside of a person’s mouth and then testing the material gathered on the swab for HIV antibodies.
Antiretroviral Therapy: a drug used to treat infections caused by retroviruses (like HIV) that use cells to replicate itself
Mutually Monogamous: two people who are in an exclusive relationship with each other. Neither one of them has a relationship outside of their relationship with the other person