HIV is a complex disease and can be very confusing to those who are infected. HIV myths and misconceptions only serve to make the disease more confusing and living with it more difficult. Take our HIV/AIDS quiz and test your knowledge of the disease. This simple quiz doesn’t take very long but what you learn will help you for years to come.
HIV is spread from person to person by:
- Shaking hands, kissing or hugging
- Unprotected anal, oral or vaginal sexual contact
- Sharing needles to inject recreational drugs
Answers B and CFor detailed information, click here.
How is HIV passed from one person to another? What is an HIV risk factor? Can I get HIV this way? How did I get infected? There are some activities that are very risky and there are others that offer no risk at all. There are even some behaviors that people think are safe and are not.
HIV transmission can occur when blood, semen (including pre-seminal fluid, or “pre-cum”), vaginal fluid, or breast milk from an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person.
HIV can enter the body through a vein (e.g., injection drug use), the anus or rectum, the vagina, the penis, the mouth, other mucous membranes (e.g., eyes or inside of the nose), or cuts and sores.
Important Note: Intact, healthy skin is an excellent barrier against HIV and other viruses and bacteria.
These are the most common ways that HIV is transmitted from one person to another:
- By having sexual intercourse (anal, vaginal, or oral sex) with an HIV-infected person.
- By sharing needles or injection equipment with an injection drug user who is infected with HIV.
- From HIV-infected women to babies before or during birth, or through breast-feeding after birth.
- HIV also can be transmitted through transfusions of infected blood or blood clotting factors.
Important Note: Since 1985, all donated blood in the United States has been tested for HIV. Therefore, the risk of infection through transfusion of blood or blood products is extremely low. The U.S. blood supply is considered to be among the safest in the world.
Some health-care workers have become infected after being stuck with needles containing HIV-infected blood or, less frequently, after infected blood contact with the worker’s open cut or through splashes into the worker’s eyes or inside their nose. There has been only one instance of patients being infected by an HIV-infected health care worker. This involved HIV transmission from an infected dentist to six patients.
The following people should be HIV tested:
- Heterosexual men & women
- Drug users, teens, and those people over 50
- Gay men and women
- Pregnant women
Everyone should know their HIV status.For detailed information, click here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that HIV testing and HIV screening be part of routine clinical care in all health care settings. The CDC also has stated it suggests that the patient’s right to refuse be preserved in order to facilitate a good working relationship between patient and doctor. The following summarizes the HIV testing recommendations from the CDC.
Patients in all Health-Care Settings
- HIV screening is recommended for patients in all health-care settings after the patient is notified that testing will be performed unless the patient declines (opt-out screening).
- Persons at high risk for HIV infection should be screened for HIV at least annually.
- Separate written consent for HIV testing should not be required; general consent for medical care should be considered sufficient and imply consent for HIV testing.
Prevention counseling should not be required with HIV diagnostic testing or as part of HIV screening programs in health-care settings.
- HIV screening should be included in the routine panel of prenatal screening tests for all pregnant women.
- HIV screening is recommended after the patient is notified that testing will be performed unless the patient declines (opt-out screening).
- Separate written consent for HIV testing should not be required; general consent for medical care should be considered sufficient for HIV testing.
- Repeat screening in the third trimester is recommended in certain areas with elevated rates of HIV infection among pregnant women.
Which of the following increase your risk of HIV exposure:
- Unprotected anal, oral, or vaginal sex
- Sharing needles
- Drug use
- Infection with another sexually transmitted disease
All of the aboveFor detailed information, click here.
The most common question is, “Do I have an HIV infection?” The fact of the matter is regardless of what symptoms a person may or may not have, the only way to know if there is an HIV infection is by getting an HIV test. The most important thing you can do for yourself and your partner is to get an HIV test. An HIV test is truly the only sure way you can know whether or not you have been infected. You can get tested by your family doctor or at a free and anonymous testing site in your community like SAAF. Get tested and get the peace of mind you are looking for.Hide information
If I think I have been exposed, the best thing to do is:
- Don't worry - one exposure is not enough to get infected
- Do nothing and hope for the best
- Get tested at SAAF, by your doctor or another testing agency
- It doesn't matter - if I'm infected there is no hope for me anyway
C. Get tested at SAAF, by your doctor or another testing agencyFor detailed information, click here.
HIV testing is the key to slowing the HIV epidemic. Knowing your HIV status could be one of the most important things you do. Diagnosing HIV early in the disease course improves your prognosis. There are other reasons why HIV testing is beneficial. Here are the top five.
1. Early intervention means a healthier life
The key to living a healthy life with HIV is being diagnosed early. Getting into the care of an HIV specialist is an essential part of staying healthy. Get tested and if you are positive, find an HIV specialist through an AIDS Service Organization like SAAF. For additional information, click here.
2. Knowing your status protects you both
Knowing your status allows you to protect your partner as well as yourself. Even if you are both positive, safer sex techniques, including use of latex condoms, dental dams, and water-based lubricants and never sharing needles are a must.
3. Knowing your status allows you to make informed decisions
Knowing your status allows you to make informed decisions regarding your future and your life. Women living with HIV can have the family they always wanted. Knowing you are HIV positive allows you to take steps to protect your unborn baby.
4. Now you can ask the right questions
Knowing your body is an important part of living a healthy life. Get tested for HIV and if you are positive SAAF can help.
5. Know your status…get the most of your doctor visits
When you’re not feeling well, your doctor will be better able to treat you if she has all the facts. If she knows your status, she can address the special needs your HIV demandsHide information
We are both HIV positive…we don’t have to use condoms:
FalseFor detailed information, click here.
“My partner and I are both HIV positive. Do we still need to use condoms?”
The answer is a resounding “yes”. HIV reinfection or superinfection as it is sometimes called, is a consequence of unprotected sexual encounters between two HIV infected people. Simply put, reinfection occurs when a person living with HIV gets infected a second time while having unprotected sex with another HIV infected person. Compelling evidence has surfaced in human case studies that have confirmed fears that HIV reinfection can occur and can be very problematic for HIV infected people.
How does reinfection affect me?
As you may already know there are several strains of HIV. In addition, when exposed to medications, HIV changes or mutates over time. If a person is reinfected with a strain of HIV that is different from the strains already present or if a mutated HIV type is introduced into the body through unsafe sex, treatment will be much more complex and potentially ineffective. For example, I am being treated for HIV and my medications are working well…my viral load is undetectable. Then I have unprotected sex with another person living with HIV and get reinfected with their strain…one that is resistant to most medications. Over time, that new strain will flourish in my body, rendering my once successful treatment useless. Eventually my viral load skyrockets and my immune system pays the price.
What should I do to prevent reinfection?
Simply put, to prevent reinfection, safer sex should be the rule with each and every sexual encounter. Be honest with your partner. Insist on condoms each time and explain why. While some feel condoms “kill the mood” or “don’t feel as good” as sex without condoms, it is possible to have a very fulfilling sex life that includes condoms.
What if I have already had unprotected sex?
With your partner, introduce condoms into your intimacy. While it will feel different it can be very pleasurable. Also, continue to take your medications as prescribed without missing any doses. Share your concerns about reinfection with your physician and make him aware that you have had an unprotected encounter with another positive person. With this information, your doctor can be in tune to therapy failures is they occur and possible reasons for that failure. He or she may even feel a genotype resistance test could be helpful.
We all know safer sex practices are the most important way to prevent transmission of HIV to the uninfected population. But now it is becoming clear that HIV infected people can benefit from safer sex as well.Hide information
Only gay men and drug users get HIV:
HIV can infect which of the following groups:
- Teens, the elderly, and newborns
- Bisexuals, homosexuals, and heterosexuals
- All of the above
All of the aboveFor detailed information, click here.
HIV can be transmitted from person to person in many different ways. But which activities are the riskiest? Which activities carry the highest risk of HIV infection? Here are the most risky:
- Sharing needles to inject drugs
- Receptive Anal Intercourse
- Vaginal Intercourse
The best way to prevent HIV infection is:
- Not to have sexual contact with anyone
- Stay away from those with HIV
- Use latex condoms and don't share needles
- I don't have to worry because I'm not at risk
A. Not to have sexual contact with anyoneFor detailed information, click here.
The primary reason that condoms fail to prevent HIV/STD infection or pregnancy is incorrect or inconsistent use, not failure of the condom itself. Consistent use means using a condom with each act of anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
Correct condom use includes all of the following steps:
- Use a new condom for each act of vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
- Use the condom throughout sex- from start to finish.
- Put on the condom as soon as erection occurs and before any vaginal, anal, or oral contact with the penis.
- Hold the tip of the condom and unroll it onto the erect penis, leaving space at the tip of the condom, yet ensuring that no air is trapped in the condom’ s tip.
- Adequate lubrication is important to prevent condom breakage, but use only water-based lubricants, such as glycerine or lubricating jellies available at any pharmacy. NEVER use oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly, cold cream, hand lotion, or baby oil, which can weaken the condom.
- Withdraw from the partner immediately after ejaculation, holding the condom firmly to the base of the penis to keep it from slipping off.
- Condom users should make sure that the condom expiration date has not passed or the manufacturing date does not indicate the condom is too old (if the package is not opened, condoms are good up to 5 years after the manufacture date).
Condoms Users Have Plenty of Options
There are several types of condoms. Nearly all types offer protection against HIV and other STDs.
Condoms that Offer Protection From HIV & STDs
- Latex Condoms for Men Latex condoms are made of a particular kind of rubber. Laboratory studies show that intact latex condoms provide a highly effective barrier to sperm and micro-organisms, including HIV and the much smaller hepatitis B virus. Their effectiveness has been proven over many years.Use only water-based lubricants with latex condoms.
- Synthetic Condoms For people who are allergic to latex, several new types of materials are being used to make condoms. One new type is polyurethane, a soft plastic. Another new type is Tactylon TM, a synthetic latex. Lab tests have shown that both these materials provide an effective barrier against sperm, bacteria, and viruses such as HIV.
- Polyurethane Condoms for Women The female condom (Reality TM) fits inside the vagina and covers some of the area outside of the vagina. It also is made of polyurethane. When a male condom cannot be used, couples should consider using a female condom.
If I find I am infected, what should I do next:
- Run away...there's no hope for me
- Talk to a doctor as soon as possible..earlier treatment means a healthier life
- Seek out support from family, friends, loved ones or HIV agencies like SAAF.
Answers B and CFor detailed information, click here.
It’s hard to imagine what could send a chill through your spine more than finding out you are HIV positive. So frightening is the prospect that many people do not get tested just to avoid the possibility of being given the bad news. Although very frightening, finding out you are HIV positive is no longer a death sentence. The advent of treatments and medications to prevent infection has made it possible to live with HIV rather than die from AIDS.
A Long Healthy Life – It Is Possible
Being HIV positive doesn’t mean you necessarily have AIDS. HIV is a virus that slowly damages the immune system, leaving the body at greater risk for developing many infections considered AIDS defining. However, one can be HIV positive without having AIDS. And while there is no medicine or treatment to completely rid the body of HIV, there are several medicines that can keep the virus in check, protecting the immune system from damage and thus slowing the progression of HIV to AIDS. Simply put, with the proper medical care and by taking care of yourself you can live a long healthy life with HIV.
Who Should You Tell and How?
With all that being said, the fact remains that despite the good prognosis of today’s HIV patient, being diagnosed is scary, confusing, and depressing. And in those first few hours and days after getting your diagnosis, support from medical professionals, family, loved ones and friends with be crucial. You don’t need to go through the process alone. But in order to get the support you need, you have to tell someone about your diagnosis – and that can be a daunting task. However, by following a few guidelines, you can disclose your status and develop your support network.
How To Tell
Once you find out you are positive, take a moment and decide who you feel will be supportive and who won’t. Consider the following while you are disclosing your status.
- When considering who to tell, first ask yourself what you hope to gain from telling that person. And while you should hope for the support you are looking for, be prepared for the possibility that the one you tell may not take it as you had hoped.
- There is a grieving process that comes with learning you are HIV positive. Keep in mind that those you tell may also grieve in their own way. They may feel sadness that you are sick; anger because you have become infected; or may deny what you are telling them all together.
- Help them accept the news by providing educational materials that helps them understand the disease.
- Give them the time they need to adjust to the news. Just as you will need time to understand and accept your diagnosis, those you choose to tell will need time to understand your diagnosis as well. But with time and some help from you they will move through these feelings and will come to be the support you are looking for.
Who To Tell
Support can come from a lot of different places and people that are a part of your life. Some of the people you can consider telling include:
- Family members
- Counselors or social workers
Important Information! While who you tell or don’t tell is entirely up to you, the only people you must tell are potential sex partners. It is also suggested you disclose your diagnosis to your dentist and health care providers so they can take better care of you. Keep in mind you don’t need to tell everyone about your HIV right away. Only disclose your status when you feel the time is right and the person you are going to tell is ready.
Knowledge is Power – Know Your Illness
The next step in managing your diagnosis is getting to know the disease. Learn as much as you can about HIV. It is said that knowledge is power. HIV is the perfect example of how knowing your illness, and knowing your body can help manage your disease. There are two important sources of HIV information.
Your HIV Specialist
Your HIV specialist, nurses, social workers and dieticians can be an excellent source of HIV information. Often, they will have brochures, fact sheets, and other types of educational material that you can review in the privacy of your home. Make sure during your doctor appointment you ask plenty of questions and don’t leave until you fully understand the answers.
There are literally thousands of informative sites across the web. Keep these things in mind when looking for HIV information on the web.
- Some sites are more reliable than others.
- Find sites that provide current information in an easy to use format.
- Any information older than 2 years should be considered outdated.
- When you’re just starting out on the web, stick with the larger sites that are updated regularly.
- If you don’t know where to begin, ask your doctor or local HIV agency what web sites they recommend.
Important Information! Never rely solely on any information you find on the Internet without first reviewing it with your physician.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is:
- A bacterial illness treated with antibiotics
- A virus which has no cure but can be controlled with medicines
- The virus that causes AIDS
Answers B and CFor detailed information, click here.
What is HIV?
To answer the question what is HIV AIDS, we have to start early in the epidemic. In 1985, scientists discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and with it the question what is aids was answered. HIV is a virus that is transmitted from person to person through the exchange of body fluids such as blood, semen, breast milk and vaginal secretions. Sexual contact is the most common way to spread HIV AIDS, but it can also be transmitted by sharing needles when injecting drugs, or during childbirth and breastfeeding. As HIV AIDS reproduces, it damages the body’s immune system and the body becomes susceptible to illness and infection. There is no known cure for HIV infection.
What is AIDS?
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, is a condition that describes an advanced state of HIV infection. With AIDS, the virus has progressed, causing significant loss of white blood cells (CD4 cells) or any of the cancers or infections that result from immune system damage. Those illnesses and infections are said to be “AIDS-defining” because they mark the onset of AIDS. Like HIV, there is no known cure for AIDS.
HIV/AIDS – More Than Just a Disease
Soon after the emergence of the AIDS epidemic, it became evident that HIV was much more than just a disease. Unlike any other disease, HIV not only touches the lives of those infected, but it also impacts the lives of virtually everyone on earth. One would be hard pressed to find any group not affected by the HIV epidemic in some way. Simply put, it is clearly one of the most important public health issues.Hide information