Frequently Asked Questions

Print
PDF

What is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV attacks the immune system. The immune system allows our body to fight infection. HIV destroys white blood cells (T cells/CD4 cells) that are critical in the body’s immune response.

What is AIDS?

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of HIV infection. Having AIDS means that the immune system is weakened to the point that the body can no longer fight infection effectively. When someone has one or more infections and has a low T cell count, they have AIDS.

Should I get tested for HIV?

YES – especially if you:

*have injected drugs or steroids and shared equipment (needles, syringes, works) and blood with others

*had unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with men who have sex with other men, someone who has had multiple partners and/or anonymous partners

*exchanged sex for drugs or money

*received a diagnosis and/or are receiving treatment for, hepatitis, tuberculosis, or sexually transmitted diseases

*received a blood transfusion or clotting factor between 1978-1985

*had sex with anyone who meets any of the above criteria

How can I become infected with HIV?


HIV is transmitted by:

*having sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with someone who is infected with HIV

*sharing needles, syringes and works with someone who is infected with HIV

*being exposed to HIV before or during birth or through breast feeding (fetus or infant)

HIV is not transmitted through casual contact such as:

*shaking hands

*hugging

*casual kiss

*using a toilet

*drinking from the same glass

How can I avoid being infected by HIV?

*Abstain from sex (vaginal, anal or oral) until you are in a relationship with only one person and you know each other’s HIV status

*Use latex condoms

How do I use a condom properly?

1) Use a new condom with each act of intercourse.

2) Carefully handle the condom to avoid damaging it with fingernails, teeth, or other sharp objects.

3) Put the condom on after the penis is erect and before any genital contact with the partner.

4) Ensure that no air is trapped in the tip of the condom (pinch the tip).

5) Ensure adequate lubrication during intercourse, possibly requiring use of lubricants. Use only water-based lubricants (e.g., K-Y jelly or glycerin) with latex condoms (oil-based lubricants e.g., petroleum jelly, shortening, mineral oil, massage oils, body lotions, or cooking oil) can weaken latex and should never be used.

6) Hold the condom firmly against the base of the penis during withdrawal and withdraw while the penis is still erect to prevent slippage.

NOTE: Condoms should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight and should not be used after the expiration date. Condoms in damaged packages or condoms that show obvious signs of deterioration (e.g., brittleness, stickiness, or discoloration) should not be used regardless of their expiration date. Natural-membrane condoms (e.g. lambskin condoms) may not offer the same level of protection against sexually transmitted viruses as latex condoms.

HIV/AIDS Prevention Locator

HIV/AIDS Prevention & Service Provider Locator