What is HIV?
– HIV stands for human Immunodeficiency Virus
– HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
– HIV targets and infects the same immune system cells that are supposed to
protect us from illnesses.
– These are a type of white blood cell called CD4 cells.
– HIV takes over CD4 cells and turns them into virus factories that can produce
thousands of viral copies.
– As the virus grows, it damages or kills the original CD4 cells, weakening the
What is AIDS
– AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrom.
– When HIV weakens the immune system, you are less able to fight off infection and
can develop serios opportunistic infections (OIs).
– The CDC defines someone as having AIDS if he or she is HIV + and:
- Has had at least one of 21 AIDS-defening OIs and/or …
- Has had a CD4 cell count (T-cell count) of 200 cells or less.
– The only way to know if you are infected is get an HIV test.
– Many HIV+ people do not know their status and do not think they are at risk
– You should be tested if:
- You have had vaginal, anal, oral, sex without a condom
- You have shared needles or syringes to inject drugs
- You are uncertain of your partner’s status or your partner is HIV +
- You are pregnant ot are considering becoming pregnant.
- You have had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) , including hepatitis C
The HIV Test.
– To get truly accurate result, it’s necessary to wait at least three months (and
preferably six months) after your last possible exposure to the virus before being
– The immune system can take anywhere from three to twelve weeks to make
antibodies after being exposed to HIV. In this ‘Windows period’, someone
may get an unclear result or false negative.
– You can get tested at your doctor’s office, the public health department, a local
community health center, a family planning or STD clinic, or a hospital.
– You can also use the home access kit to send in an sample of blood for testing.
– There are two types of testing: anonymous and confidential
- Anonymous: your name is not used or attached to the test at all
- Confidential: your name is attached, but kept confidential
– Contact your local health department or an AIDS service organization hotline to
find out more about the types of testing available in your area.
– Counseling plays a valuable role in the process.