What is HIV?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV attacks the immune system, making it difficult for your body to fight off infection.
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome: Acquired means you get infected with it. Immune Deficiency means a weakness in the body’s immune system to fight diseases. Syndrome means a group of health problems that make up a disease.
Is there a cure for HIV/AIDS?
No. There is not a cure for HIV/AIDS.
Are there treatments available for people infected with HIV/AIDS?
Yes. HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) is available for all people infected with HIV/AIDS. HAART is also known as “cocktails.”
How long is the lifespan of an individual infected with HIV/AIDS?
With proper medical care, diet, exercise and adherence to HAART, an individual infected with HIV/AIDS can expect to live a full lifetime.
How might I become infected with HIV/AIDS?
A person can become infected with HIV/AIDS after having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person. Exposure to infected bodily fluids can also lead to infection. Blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk contain infectious levels of HIV. It is important to use universal precautions when handling any bodily fluids. It is also important to note that an infected mother can transfer HIV to their infant while breastfeeding. You can also become infected by sharing needles with an infected person.
How can I reduce my risk of infection?
Use a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. If you are an injection drug user, do not share your needles and use bleach and water to clean them after each use. Needle exchange programs are available in certain areas. Use universal precautions every time you are handling bodily fluids.
What are universal precautions?
Universal precautions are wearing latex or vinyl gloves when handling bodily fluids.
What are the symptoms of HIV infection?
Those who do show early HIV symptoms will develop flu-like symptoms. This can include: fever, rash, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes and glands. However, for most people, the first symptoms of HIV will not be apparent. The only way to know for certain that you are infected with HIV is to be tested.
Where can I get tested for HIV?
HIV testing is available at all public health departments. Call your local health department to schedule an appointment. In Summit County, Ohio, call 330-252-1559 to schedule an appointment with Community AIDS Network. All areas outside of Summit County, please call 1-800-332-2437 to find the testing site nearest to you.
How is one tested for HIV?
There are many different HIV tests available. A vial of blood is drawn by a health care professional and sent to a lab for testing. This method can take up to one week to deliver results. An oral test is also available. The client uses a cotton swab to collect a sample of salvia. The swab is then sent off to a lab for testing. This method of testing may also take up to one week for results. Rapid testing is also available. An oral rapid test is available at certain testing sites. This process takes about 20 minutes to get results. A finger prick method is also available, where a small sample of the client’s blood is collected and tested. This process takes about 10 minutes. Community AIDS Network uses Trinity Biotech’s 10-minute Rapid HIV Test.
How often should I be tested for HIV and other STDs?
If you are sexually active, we recommend that you be tested for HIV and other STDs every 3-6 months. If you are in a monogamous relationship, we recommend you and your partner get tested for all STDs (including HIV) three months into the relationship and then again at six months. Local health departments offer full STD screenings. Please call them to schedule an appointment.
If your test is negative –
A negative or non-reactive results indicates that antibodies to HIV are not present in your body at that time. However, antibodies to HIV can take up to three months to develop. If you think you have been exposed, it is best to wait three months to be tested. Testing prior to three months may result in a false negative.
If your test is positive –
A positive or reactive test result indicates that antibodies to HIV are present in your body. A follow-up test is needed to confirm these results.
How accurate are the tests?
Community AIDS Network uses the Trinity Biotech 10-minute Rapid HIV Test. This test device is 99.8% accurate and 100% sensitive. 100% sensitive means that if your test results are negative then, at that time, you are free of HIV.
What is the difference between anonymous and confidential HIV testing?
If you are tested anonymously for HIV then you are known only as a number, and you will not receive a copy of your test results. If you test confidentially, your name and other information is given. A copy of your results is given to you if you test confidentially. All information collected remains confidential and is not sent beyond the state level.