Find Needle Exchange And Harm Reduction Programs
You can get free sterile harm-reduction supplies at over 35 needle exchange programs and over 370 access points across Ontario. Through these programs you can get:
- safer-injection equipment including:
Through these programs, you can also:
- safely dispose of both injection and crack smoking equipment
- get condoms
- get education and information
- get referrals and counseling
Find the closest needle-exchange and harm-reduction program by contacting a public health unit near you or call the AIDS and Sexual Health Info Line toll free at 1-800-668-2437.
A Word About Window Periods
The window period refers to the time it takes for HIV to show up in an HIV test. The length of the window period will depend on the type of test you take.
If you feel like you may be at risk of HIV, do not wait, speak to a healthcare professional as soon as possible. The most important thing is to test.
If you test negative but think you may have been exposed to HIV more recently, you can take another test once the window period has passed.
The picture below shows the window periods for different HIV tests. Some tests can give you an accurate result within four weeks, while others can take three months to be accurate .
A healthcare worker will be able to explain how long the window period is for the test you are taking, and will tell you if they think youll need to test for HIV again.
Ways Hiv Cannot Be Spread
HIV is not spread by:
- Air or water
- Mosquitoes, ticks or other insects
- Saliva, tears, or sweat that is not mixed with the blood of a person with HIV
- Shaking hands hugging sharing toilets sharing dishes, silverware, or drinking glasses or engaging in closed-mouth or social kissing with a person with HIV
- Drinking fountains
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Hiv Stigma And Discrimination
HIV can prompt intense feelings in people, regardless of their HIV status. It is sometimes viewed with a sense of unacceptability or disgrace. A person with HIV may feel shame and despair about their status. An HIV-negative person may be fearful or angry when they discover someone has HIV. The relationship of these feelings to HIV is referred to as stigma.Felt stigma refers to deep feelings of shame and self-loathing, and the expectation of discrimination. It can have serious negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV by discouraging them from getting tested, receiving support, or taking treatment. It may also lead people to engage in high-risk behaviours that harm their health, and contribute to new HIV infections.Enacted stigma is the experience of unfair treatment by others. For people living with HIV this can be in the form of being treated differently and poorly, or through rejection, abuse, or discrimination.HIV stigma is particularly harmful when it overlaps with other factors that are stigmatised such as if a person uses drugs, is a sex worker, is trans or gender diverse.Breaking down stigma is a community response where:
If you have experienced stigma or discrimination from a health care provider, and are unable to resolve your complaint with them directly, contact the Health Complaints Commissioner
Is It Safe For Children With Hiv To Receive Routine Immunizations
MMR, or measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, is safe to give to children with HIV, unless they have a severely weakened immune system.
DTaP/Td vaccine is safe to give to infants and children with HIV.
Hib and Hep B vaccines are safe to give to children with HIV.
Hepatitis A and B vaccines are safe to give to HIV-positive children.
VZIG should be considered for known HIV-positive children, depending on their immune status.
A yearly influenza vaccine is recommended for children with HIV, as well as any individual living in the same household as a child with HIV. There are two types of influenza vaccine children and adults with HIV should receive the “shot” form of the vaccine–not the nasal spray form, as it contains a live virus. Pneumococcal vaccine can be safely administered to age-appropriate HIV-infected children.
Always consult with your child’s doctor regarding immunizations for an HIV-infected child.
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Do I Still Need To Worry About Other Sexually Transmitted Infections
Neither HIV treatment nor PrEP prevents other sexually transmitted infections, or STIs.
Ways to reduce the risk of STIs include having both partners tested, limiting the number of sexual partners and using condoms. Vaccines are available to prevent some STIs, including hepatitis B and human papillomavirus .
How Do You Get Or Transmit Hiv
You can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. These fluids are:
- Semen and pre-seminal fluid
- Rectal fluids
- Vaginal fluids
- Breast milk
For transmission to occur, the HIV in these fluids must get into the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person through a mucous membrane open cuts or sores or by direct injection.
People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
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Days To 20 Years After Exposure
The chronic stage of infection occurs once the immune system brings the virus under control. During this phase, HIV will go into hiding, where it resides in various cells and tissues throughout the body in a dormant state known as latency. HIV latency can persist without symptoms for 10 years or more, although some people may experience signs within a year or two.
During the early chronic phase, lymphadenopathy may be the only notable sign of an HIV infection. In some cases, the glands may be visibly enlarged and reach up to an inch or more in size. If the condition persists for more than three months, its referred to as persistent generalized lymphadenopathy .
Even during latency, the virus will multiple imperceptibly and gradually deplete immune cells known as CD4 T-cells. As immune deficiency develops, a number of nonspecific symptoms are likely to appear, including:
- Oral candidiasis , a fungal infection that causes the formation of creamy, white lesions on the sides of the tongue and lining of the mouth
- Unexplained fevers and drenching night sweats that soak through bedsheets and nightclothes
- Severe, uncontrolled diarrhea that lasts for more than three days
Each of these symptoms is commonly seen in persons with immune deficiency. They may, in some cases, be caused by HIV itself or by an infection that has yet to be diagnosed.
Stages Of Hiv Infection
The stages of infection from person to person vary slightly, both in severity and the speed of progression. These stages map the depletion of immune cells as the body’s defenses further and further degrade.
With each progression, the risk of opportunistic infections increases until the immune system is said to be fully compromised. It is at this stage that the risk of illness and death is particularly high.
The stages of infection can be roughly classified as follows:
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What Should I Do After I Start Pep
You need to see a doctor during the four weeks you are on PEP and again at the end of the four weeks when you are done with the PEP medicines. You will be tested for HIV again after the four weeks. Ask your health care provider for a number to call with questions about your PEP treatment.
While you are on PEP, and after you are done, be sure to protect yourself and others from HIV infection.
Get Tested Regularly If You Are At Greater Risk Of Hiv
If you are at greater risk of HIV get tested regularly.
Gay, bisexual, trans and other men who have sex with men should get tested every 3 months . This may vary depending on how many sexual partners you have during the year.
Talk with your doctor or sexual health specialist for advice. They can also provide information about how to reduce your risk for HIV and other STIs.
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Should I Wait To Take An Hiv Test
If you think youve been exposed to HIV, seek medical advice as soon as you can. The doctor or nurse you speak to will be able to advise you about when and how to get tested, so it wont have to be a decision you make on your own.
In some cases, it might be appropriate to get tested more than once. You may be advised to take an early test, and then a second test over 45 days later after the potential exposure.
An early test may show a positive or a negative result, and require confirmation from a second.
The Asymptomatic Stage Of Hiv
Once seroconversion is over, most people feel fine and dont experience any symptoms. This is often called the asymptomatic stage and it can last for several years.
Though you might feel well at this stage, the virus is active, infecting new cells, making copies of itself and damaging your immune systems ability to fight illness.
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Things To Know About Hiv Suppression
A vial of blood
A vial of blood
Development of antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV has turned what was once an almost always fatal infection into a manageable chronic condition. Daily antiretroviral therapy can reduce the amount of HIV in the blood to levels that are undetectable with standard tests. Staying on treatment is crucial to keep the virus suppressed. NIAID-supported research has demonstrated that achieving and maintaining a durably undetectable viral load not only preserves the health of the person living with HIV, but also prevents sexual transmission of the virus to an HIV-negative partner.
How Hiv Can Spread
The most common ways people contract HIV in the United States are through sharing equipment when injecting drugs and having anal or vaginal sex without barrier contraceptives. Anal sex poses a higher risk than vaginal sex, as there is a greater chance of tissue damage.
Although it is less common, HIV may pass to an infant during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
In extremely rare cases, HIV may spread if blood comes into contact with an open wound. There is a chance of this occurring if partners engage in open-mouth kissing, and both have bleeding gums or open sores within the mouth.
However, saliva that does not contain blood cannot transmit HIV. People cannot get HIV from closed-mouth or cheek kissing.
People can reduce or eliminate the chance of contracting HIV by using barrier contraceptives or taking preventive HIV therapy, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis .
PrEP is a pill that a person can take once a day to minimize the chance of contracting HIV. It may be helpful for those who:
- have a partner with HIV
- have a partner with an unknown HIV status
- have multiple partners
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When Do Symptoms Occur
Some people have flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks after infection, but others may not feel sick or not develop symptoms at all until later.
See a healthcare provider if you have symptoms of HIV and think you may have been exposed to HIV. Getting tested for HIV is the only way to know for sure.
In the United States, HIV is spread mainly through having anal or vaginal sex or sharing needles or syringes with an HIV-positive partner. Anal sex is the highest-risk behavior.
You can prevent HIV by using condoms correctly every time you have sex pre-exposure prophylaxis, a prevention method in which the HIV-negative partner takes daily HIV medicine to prevent HIV and treatment as prevention, a method in which the HIV-positive partner takes daily HIV medicine to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load.
Only antigen/antibody tests or nucleic acid tests can diagnose acute HIV infection. NATs look for actual virus in the blood, and antigen/antibody tests look for HIV antibodies and antigens. Antibodies are produced by your immune system when youre exposed to viruses like HIV, and antigens are foreign substances that cause your immune system to activate.
However, no test can detect HIV immediately after infection. NATs can usually tell if you have an HIV infection 10 to 33 days after exposure, while antigen/antibody tests can tell 18 to 45 days after exposure.
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers or sores
How Is Hiv Spread From Person To Person
HIV can only be spread through specific activities. In the United States, the most common ways are:
- Having vaginal or anal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV. Anal sex is riskier than vaginal sex.
- Sharing injection drug equipment , such as needles, with someone who has HIV.
Less common ways are:
- From mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. However, the use of HIV medicines and other strategies have helped lower the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV to 1% or less in the United States.
- Getting stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object. This is a risk mainly for health care workers. The risk is very low.
HIV is spread only in extremely rare cases by:
- Having oral sex. But in general, the chance that an HIV-negative person will get HIV from oral sex with an HIV-positive partner is extremely low.
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Hiv Life Expectancy: How Long Can You Live With Hiv Or Aids
The most frequently asked question for HIV-positive patients is how long can you live with HIV? Fortunately, the answer is far more promising than it was 20 years ago. Join Flo as we discuss how advancements in medical technology have altered the prognosis for those living with HIV or AIDS.
A national database containing statistics from 25 states shows that the average HIV life expectancy has more than doubled between 1996 and 2005. The bump from 10.5 to 22.5 years after diagnosis can be attributed to vast improvements in drug therapy and related approaches. However, experts still say this is only an average, and plenty of other circumstances must be taken into account regarding HIV life expectancy.
Hiv Transmission In Australia
In Australia, HIV is commonly transmitted through:
- Unprotected anal or vaginal sex .
- Sharing any needles, syringes, or other injecting equipment.
- From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding This can occur when the mother doesnt know she is HIV-positive, or is not on effective treatment.
- Tattooing or other procedures that involve unsterile or reused equipment.
- Needle stick injuries.
HIV is not transmitted by:
- kissing, hugging, massaging, mutual masturbation and other body contact
- social interaction
- sharing food, dishes, utensils, drinking glasses
- air, breath, or being coughed or sneezed on
- mosquito, insect or animal bites
- use of communal facilities .
It is perfectly safe to consume food and drinks prepared by someone who is HIV-positive even if theyre not receiving treatment.
People with HIV who are on treatment and achieve and maintain an undetectable HIV viral load cannot transmit HIV sexually.
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What Happens If I Stop Taking Antiretroviral Therapy
When therapy is stopped, viral load rebounds, and the risk of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner in the absence of other prevention methods returns. NIAID-supported research has provided clear-cut scientific evidence to support the benefits of staying on continuous antiretroviral treatment. In 2006, NIAIDs large clinical trial called SMART showed that people receiving intermittent antiretroviral treatment had twice the rate of disease progression compared to those receiving continuous treatment.
Taking antiretroviral treatment daily as directed to achieve and maintain durably undetectable status stops HIV infection from progressing, helping people living with HIV stay healthy and live longer, while offering the benefit of preventing sexual transmission. Stopping and re-starting treatment can cause drug resistance to develop, making that treatment regimen ineffective and limiting future treatment options.
I Think I’ve Been Exposed To Hiv Can I Still Prevent Hiv Infection
There may be times when you have a high-risk exposure to HIV and you cannot or did not protect yourself. For example:
- The condom slipped or broke during use.
- Your partner has HIV and you usually use condoms, but didn’t the last time you had sex.
- Rape or a sexual assault.
- You shared a needle to shoot drugs with someone and you are not sure if he or she has HIV.
- You know that the person with whom you shared needles or had unprotected sex has HIV.
- Go to a hospital emergency room or health care setting right away so that you can get all of the care you need. Women can also get emergency birth control to prevent pregnancy. Medicaid and Medicare pay for PEP for rape and sexual assault survivors. The Crime Victims Board may also pay for PEP, call 1-800-247-8035. TTY: 1-888-289-9747, Monday – Friday 9:00AM – 5:00PM.If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, call the NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault at 1-800-942-6906. TTY: 1-800-655-1789.
In these cases, if you seek medical care right away, you may be able to take medicines that may help you from getting infected with HIV. This is called
PEP has been used for people who come in contact with HIV by accident – like a nurse getting stuck by a used needle. Now, PEP can be used for more than just on-the-job accidents. Sometimes this is called nPEP. The “n” in nPEP stands for “non-occupational” which means that you did not get exposed to HIV at work. PEP is only for people who were just exposed to HIV and do not already have it.
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