Anyone can get HIV. The most important thing to know is how
you can get the virus and how to prevent it.
You can get HIV:
having unprotected sex- sex without a condom- with someone who has HIV.
The virus can be in an infected person’s blood, semen or vaginal
secretions and can enter your body through tiny cuts or sores in your
skin, or in the lining of your vagina, penis, rectum or mouth.
sharing a needle and syringe to inject drugs or sharing drug equipment
used to prepare drugs (works) for
injection with someone who has HIV
- From a
blood transfusion or blood clotting factor that you got before 1985. (But
today it is unlikely you could get infected that way because all blood in
the United States has been tested for HIV since 1985.)
born to women with HIV also can become infected during pregnancy, birth or
You cannot get HIV:
working with or being around someone who has HIV
sweat, spit, tears, clothes, drinking fountains, phones, toilet seats, or
through everyday things like sharing a meal
insect bites or stings
- From a
How can I protect myself?
share needles and syringes used to inject drugs, steroids, vitamins or for
tattooing or body piercing. Also, don’t share equipment
("works") used to prepare drugs to be injected. Many people have
been infected with HIV, hepatitis and other germs this way. Germs from an
infected person can stay in a needle and then be injected directly into
the next person who uses the needle.
- The surest
way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain
from sexual intercourse, or to be in a long-term mutually-monogamous
relationship with a partner who has been tested and who you know is uninfected.
persons whose sexual behaviors place them at risk for STIs (Sexually
Transmitted Infections—formerly STDs), correct and consistent use of the
male latex condom can reduce the risk of STI transmission. However, no
protective method is 100 percent effective, and condom use cannot
guarantee absolute protection against any STI. The more sex partners you
have, the greater your chances are of getting HIV or other diseases passed
used with a lubricant are less likely to break. However, condoms with the
spermicide nonoxynol-9 are not recommended for STI/HIV prevention. Condoms
must be used correctly and consistently to be effective and protective.
Incorrect use can lead to condom slippage or breakage, thus diminishing
the protective effect. Inconsistent use (e.g., failure to use condoms with
every act of intercourse) can result in STI transmission because
transmission can occur with a single act of intercourse.
share razors or toothbrushes because they may have the blood of another
person on them.
- If you
are pregnant or think you might be soon, talk to a doctor or your local
health department about being tested for HIV. If you have HIV, drug
treatments are available to help you and they can reduce the chance of
passing HIV to your baby.
How do I know if I have HIV or AIDS?
You might have HIV and still feel perfectly healthy. The
only way to know for sure if you are infected or not is to be tested.
Talk with a knowledgeable health care provider or counselor both before and
after you are tested. You can go to your doctor or health department for
testing. To find out where to go in your area for HIV counseling and testing,
call ASA at 512-358-2437.
Your doctor or health care provider can give you a
confidential HIV test. The information on your HIV test and test results are
confidential, as is your other medical information. This means it can be shared
only with people authorized to see your medical records. You can
ask your doctor, health care provider, or HIV counselor at the place you are
tested to explain who can obtain this information. For example, you may want to
ask whether your insurance company could find out your HIV status if you make a
claim for health insurance benefits or apply for life insurance or disability
Everyone should know their HIV status. How often you should get
an HIV test depends on your circumstances. If you have never been tested for
HIV, you should be tested. CDC recommends being tested at least once a year if
you do things that can transmit HIV infection, such as:
drugs or steroids with used injection equipment
sex for money or drugs
sex with an HIV infected person
more than one sex partner since your most recent HIV test
a sex partner who has had other sex partners since your last HIV test
If you have been tested for HIV and the result is negative
and you never do things that might transmit HIV infection, then you and your
health care provider can decide whether you need to get tested again.
You are more likely to test positive for (be infected with)
HIV if you:
ever shared injection drug needles and syringes or "works"
ever had sex without a condom with someone who had HIV
ever had a sexually transmitted infection, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea
a blood transfusion or a blood clotting factor between 1978 and 1985
ever had sex with someone who has done any of those things
What can I do if the test shows I have HIV?
Although HIV is a very serious infection, many people with
HIV and AIDS are living longer, healthier lives today, thanks to new and
effective treatments. It is very important to make sure you have a doctor who
knows how to treat HIV. If you don’t know which doctor to use, talk with a
health care professional or trained HIV counselor. If you are pregnant or are
planning to become pregnant, this is especially important.
There also are other things you can do for yourself to stay
healthy. Here are a few:
your doctor’s instructions. Keep your appointments. Your doctor may
prescribe medicine for you. Take the medicine just the way he or she tells
you to because taking only some of your medicine gives your HIV infection
more chance to grow.
immunizations (shots) to prevent infections such as pneumonia and flu.
Your doctor will tell you when to get these shots.
- If you
smoke or if you use drugs not prescribed by your doctor, you should
attempt quitting; there are resources available to help you.
healthy foods. This will help keep you strong, keep your energy and weight
up, and help your body protect itself.
regularly to stay strong and fit.
enough sleep and rest.
(Adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention