HIV / AIDS – FACTS

HIV/AIDS FRAME

 What is HIV?

What is AIDS?

How do people get infected?

How don’t people get infected?

How do people prevent HIV infection?


HIV/AIDS 101

“Learning The Facts”

The HIV/AIDS Frame

1.           What is HlV?

2.           What is AlDS?

3.           How do people get infected?

4.           How don’t people get infected?

5.           How do people prevent HIV infection?

Modes of Transmission  

1.           Unprotected Anal, Oral or Vaginal Sex with an infected person

2.           Sharing Needles and Syringes with an infected person

Infected mother to child (during, before or after birth) 
Body Fluids that transmit the virus 

1.          Blood

2.           Semen

3.           Vaginal Fluid

4.           Breast Milk

 HIV/AIDS FACT FRAME

What is HIV?

·         HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

·         HIV is the virus that can cause AIDS.

What is AIDS?

·         AIDS is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

How do people get infected?

People become infected with HIV by:

Ÿ  By having unprotected anal, oral or vaginal sex with an HIV infected person.

Ÿ  Sharing needles and syringes (drugs, steroids, vitamins, tattooing, and body piercing and body jewelry) with an HIV infected person.

Ÿ  Infected mother to child: before, during, or after birth

Ÿ  The body fluids that transmit HIV are the blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk of an HIV infected person.

How don’t people get infected?

People don’t get infected with HIV by:

Ÿ  Casual contact (sitting next to someone who is HIV infected, sharing eating utensils, using the same restrooms, drinking fountains, etc.)

Ÿ  Donating blood.

How do people prevent HIV infection?

People prevent HIV infection by:

Ÿ  Abstaining from sex, drugs and alcohol.

Ÿ  Postponing sexual activity.

Ÿ  Maintaining a mutually faithful monogamous relationship with an HIV negative person.

Ÿ  Not sharing needles or syringes.

Ÿ  Using a latex condom/barrier with a water-based lubricant (K-Y Jelly, ID Glide, Cornhuskers lotion, Wet, SK-70) correctly each and every time you have sex.

ESSENTIAL FACTS ABOUT HIV AND AIDS

The Virus

 What is HIV?

HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.  HIV is the virus that can cause AIDS (a result of HIV infection).  The virus was identified in 1983.

 

What is AIDS?

AIDS is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is a condition that results from HIV infection.  The infection is caused by a virus (HIV).  By the time people with HIV develop AIDS; their immune systems have become damaged and may no longer be able to fight off other infections.  Although treatments for HIV infection, including AIDS, have greatly improved, these infections may eventually lead to death.

 

What is the immune system?  Why is the immune system important?

What are antibodies?

The immune system is a collection of cells and substances that act as the body’s defense against germs and other things that make people sick. Antibodies usually defend against illnesses and infections, although this is not the case with HIV antibodies.

 

What happens when someone gets the virus that causes AIDS?

HIV (the virus that can cause AIDS) attacks the body’s defenses.  People with HIV may be free of symptoms; however; they may develop severe or prolonged fevers, swollen lymph glands, diarrhea, and other symptoms.  After some time, many develop AIDS (a result of HIV infection), making them susceptible to diseases that most healthy people resist.

 

How long does it take for someone who is infected with HIV to develop AIDS?   What is the incubation period for AIDS?

Since 1992, scientists have estimated that about half the people who have HIV (the virus that can cause AIDS) will develop AIDS within 10 years after becoming infected. The time between becoming infected with HIV and developing symptoms of AIDS is known as the incubation period.  However, combination treatments that include protease inhibitors have been shown to slow the pace of infection in some people, extending life and improving its quality.

 

How is AIDS diagnosed?

AIDS is a result of infection caused by a virus (HIV).  Doctors look for signs of HIV by ordering special tests.  Before making an AIDS diagnosis, doctors count the number of T-helper cells (a type of white blood cell) in the blood, a measure of how strong the immune system is.  A T-cell count of less than 200 indicates AIDS.  Doctors also look for other signs that the body’s defenses are damaged-for example, cancers or illnesses that usually attack only people whose defenses are not working.

 

How can I tell if I have the virus that causes AIDS?

People can find out if they have HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) by getting counseled and tested.  Using a sample of blood or fluid from the mouth, EIAs (enzyme immunoassays, formerly called ELISAs) can show whether people have antibodies to HIV (the virus that can cause AIDS).  If the tests show that people have HIV antibodies, it is assumed that they have HIV infection.

 

How long does the virus survive outside the body?

Although HIV (the virus that can cause AIDS) can live outside the body for a few hours in certain body fluids, it cannot function when dry.  The virus cannot infect someone unless it enters the body.

 

What is an opportunistic infection?

An opportunistic infection is an illness that occurs only when someone’s immune system isn’t working normally.  When the body is in a weakened state, germs can invade the body and multiply.

 

What is tuberculosis?  What does HIV have to do with tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB), a disease caused by mycobacteria, usually affects the lungs.  TB can, however, affect other parts of the body.  Not everyone who is infected with TB germs develops TB disease.  However, people who have both HIV and TB infection are more likely to develop TB disease than people who have TB infection only.  When people with TB disease cough, speak, sneeze, or sing, others who share the same air may be at risk for TB infection.  There are medications that prevent TB infection from progressing to TB disease and that cure TB disease, if taken as directed.

 

What is combination therapy?  What are “drug cocktails”?

There is a growing number of drugs that attack HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) itself.  Currently, doctors combine these drugs to block the ability of HIV to multiply, thus protecting the immune system for some time.  Research continues to find more and better treatments.

 

What is the viral load test that people are talking about?

What does the T-cell count tell doctors about somebody’s health?

From the viral load test and the T-cell (CD4+) count, doctors get important information:

the amount of HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) in the blood of a person with HIV and the effect of HIV on that person’s immune system.  The viral load test measures how much HIV RNA can be found in the blood.  As the vital load increases, the chance of illness increases.  The viral load test is used to help make decisions about treatment.  The T-cell count gives a picture of the strength (or weakness) of the body’s defenses.  As the T-cell count decreases, the possibility of illness increases.

 

What is Kemron?  What is low-dose alpha interferon?

Kemron is a brand name for alpha interferon, a drug absorbed in the mouth in small doses.  A controversial product, Kemron was developed in Kenya to treat HIV infection.  Although the original study on Kemron showed promising results, other studies have been unable to confirm them.

 

Transmission and Prevention

 

How is HIV transmitted?

q  By having unprotected anal, oral or vaginal sex with an HIV infected person

q  Sharing needles and syringes (drugs, steroids, vitamins, tattooing, body piercing and body jewelry) with an HIV infected person

q  Infected mother to child: before, during, or after birth

q  The body fluids that transmit are blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk of an HIV infected person

q  HIV is not transmitted by casual contact (sitting next to someone who is HIV infected, sharing, eating utensil, using the same restrooms, drinking fountains, etc.)

q  HIV is not transmitted by donating blood

 

What are some common sexually transmitted diseases?

Some common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, genital waits, herpes, trichomoniasis, and Hepatitis B infection. Signs and symptoms of a particular STD may be different for women and men.  With some STDs, people may show no symptoms.  People can prevent STDs, including HIV infection, by not having sex or by using latex condoms the right way every time they do have sex.

 

Are health care workers at risk of getting HIV on the job?

AIDS (a result of HIV infection) is caused by a virus (HIV). The main risk of exposure to HIV for health care workers on the job is through injuries from needles and other sharp instruments that are contaminated with the virus.  This risk, however, is minimal.  Scientists estimate that less than 1 percent of workers who are pricked by HIV contaminated sharp instruments become infected with HIV.

 

Are condoms effective?  Don’t condoms fail 10 percent of the time?

Used correctly and consistently, latex condoms help protects people from HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and other sexually transmitted germs.  Although they greatly reduce the risk of infection, they are not 100percent effective. Condom failures usually result from improper use.

 

I’ve heard of a female condom.  What is it?

The female condom is made of polyurethane.  Shaped like a closed tube, the female condom has a ring at each end.  Unlike the male condom, the female condom allows women to protect themselves without having to convince male partners to put on condoms.

 

How is a dental dam used for oral sex?

How is plastic food wrap used for oral sex?

Generally, instructions for using a dental dam or plastic food wrap are to spread a water- based lubricant on one side of the dam or plastic wrap and then place that side against the partner’s vagina or anus before having oral sex.  No scientific studies have been done on how effective dental dams or plastic wrap may be against HIV during oral sex.

 

What are natural condoms?   How safe are natural condoms?

Although natural condoms (made from sheep intestine) work well as a birth control method, they may not keep someone from getting HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) or other sexually transmitted germs if his or her partner is infected.

 

What sexual activities are safe?

Sexual activities that have no risk of HIV transmission include the following:

    q  Sex between two mutually monogamous, uninfected partners who do not share needles and syringes with            anyone

q  Massage

q  Massaging one’s own genitals (masturbation)

q  Activities that do not include touching a partner’s penis, vagina, or anus

q  Activities that do not include sex, whether oral, anal, or vaginal

  

Can I get HIV from kissing someone on the cheek?   Can I get HIV from open-mouth kissing?

Kissing someone on the cheek is very safe.  AIDS (a result of HIV infection) is caused by a virus HIV.  Even if a person with HIV kisses someone else, that person’s skin is a good protector against the virus.

AIDS (a result of HIV infection) is caused by a virus HIV.  Because there could be a risk of blood contact during prolonged open-mouth kissing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends against doing this with a partner who has HIV.

 

Can I get HIV from performing oral sex?

AIDS (a result of HIV infection) is caused by a virus HIV.  Some research suggests that it is possible to get HIV through oral sex with a partner who has HIV.  HIV is in the blood and semen of infected men and in the blood and vaginal fluid of infected women.  When people have oral sex, they can avoid becoming infected by not touching their partners’ penis, vagina, or anus with their mouths.  If a partner has HIV, a person can avoid becoming infected by not having contact with the partner’s semen, vaginal fluid, or blood.  The risk of HIV infection increases if either partner has another STD (sexually transmitted disease).  People who choose to have oral sex can use a latex barrier to protect against HIV.

 

Can I get HIV from someone who performs oral sex on me?

AIDS (a result of HIV infection) is caused by a virus HIV.  It is unlikely that someone would get HIV if a partner with the virus performed oral sex on him or her.  However, some experts think that the person who receives semen or vaginal fluid during oral sex may be at risk of becoming infected.

 

Can I get HIV from anal sex?

Yes.  Even with a condom, anal sex puts people at risk for HIV infection.  If people have anal sex, they can reduce their risk by using a latex condom.  Using a water-based lubricant with the condom makes the condom less likely to break.

 

How can someone get HIV from a needle?

AIDS (a result of HIV infection) is caused by a virus HIV.  Because HIV can spread through blood-to-blood contact, the person who uses a contaminated needle or syringe is at risk of becoming HIV-infected.  A person using a contaminated needle can inject the virus directly into the body.

 

I clean my needles with water. Is that okay?

No.  People can get HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) if they share needles and syringes with a person who has HIV.  If people cannot use a more effective method (getting off drugs or using new, sterile equipment every time), cleaning their “works” properly with chlorine bleach and water can help reduce the risk of infection.

 

What drugs are associated with getting HIV?

The use of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, crack, heroin, and amphetamines is associated with the transmission of HIV (the virus that causes AIDS).  These drugs affect people’s judgment and may lead them to engage in high-risk activities such as having sex or injecting drugs.  Injected drugs greatly increase the risk because they carry HIV directly into the body if an HIV-contaminated needle is used.

 

Can I get HIV from someone’s saliva?

There are no known cases of saliva by itself spreading HIV (the virus that causes AIDS).  Although there is a theoretical possibility of this, much research suggests that it is highly unlikely.

If you would like to get tested, please contact Eddie Burgos, Director of Outreach Services, Henry Belton, Jr., MSW, Intervention Specialist or Sade Hobson, MPH, Intervention Specialist.

Walk-Ins are always welcomed, but we encourage you to call ahead of time at 314/421-9600 to make an appointment.

 

Website: WWW.CWPSTL.ORG

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