Talk With Your Hiv Health Care Provider
Talk with your health care provider about the benefits of HIV treatment and which HIV medication is right for you. Discuss how frequently you should get your viral load tested to make sure it remains undetectable.
If your lab results show that the virus is detectable or if you are having trouble taking every dose of your medication, you can still protect your HIV-negative partner by using other methods of preventing sexual transmission of HIV such as condoms, safer sex practices, and/or pre-exposure prophylaxis for an HIV-negative partner until your viral load is undetectable again.
Taking HIV medicine to maintain an undetectable viral load does not protect you or your partner from getting other sexually transmitted diseases , so talk to your provider about ways to prevent other STDs.
Why Do Some People With Hiv Infection Develop Aids
Over time, untreated HIV infection damages the immune system and makes it more difficult to fight infections and cancers.
Before there were effective treatments for HIV infection, all infected people went on to develop AIDS within about 10 years. Today, people with HIV who take effective treatment are unlikely to develop AIDS and will have a near-normal life expectancy. This is because these medicines keep the amount of virus in their blood under control and protect the immune system.
Basic Facts About Aids
- AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Its also called advanced HIV infection or late-stage HIV.
- AIDS is a set of symptoms and illnesses that develop when an advanced HIV infection has destroyed the immune system.
- Fewer people develop AIDS now, as more people are on treatment for HIV and staying well.
Although there is no cure for HIV, with the right treatment and support, people living with HIV can enjoy long and healthy lives. To do this, its especially important to commit to taking treatment correctly.
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Having A Medication Routine
Taking HIV medication as prescribed is essential missing even a few doses might jeopardize the treatment.
A person should design a daily medication-taking routine that fits their treatment plan and schedule.
Sometimes, side effects keep people from sticking with their treatment plans. If any side effect is hard to manage, contact a healthcare provider. They can recommend a drug that is easier to tolerate and suggest other changes to the treatment plan.
Avoiding Exposure To Relevant Body Fluids
To limit the risk of exposure to HIV, reduce contact with blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and other body fluids that can carry the virus.
Frequently and thoroughly washing the skin immediately after coming into contact with body fluids can also reduce the risk of infection.
To prevent transmission, healthcare workers use gloves, masks, protective eyewear, face shields, and gowns when exposure to these fluids is likely, and they follow established procedures.
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Treatment And Life Expectancy
If HIV develops into stage 3 HIV, life expectancy drops significantly. Its difficult to repair damage to the immune system at this point. Infections and other conditions, such as certain cancers, resulting from severe immune system impairment are common. However, with successful antiretroviral therapy and some immune system recovery, many people with stage 3 HIV live long lives.
With todays treatments for HIV infection, people can live with HIV and never have AIDS develop. Its also important to note that successful antiretroviral treatment and a sustained undetectable viral load greatly lowers the risk of transmitting the virus to a partner.
How Do You Get Aids
You dont actually get AIDS. You might get infected with HIV, and later you might develop AIDS. You can get infected with HIV from anyone whos infected, even if they dont look sick and even if they havent tested HIV-positive yet. The blood, vaginal fluid, semen, and breast milk of people infected with HIV has enough of the virus in it to infect other people. Most people get the HIV virus by:
- having sex with an infected person
- sharing a needle with someone whos infected
- being born when their mother is infected, or drinking the breast milk of an infected woman
Getting a transfusion of infected blood used to be a way people got AIDS, but now the blood supply is screened very carefully and the risk is extremely low.
There are no documented cases of HIV being transmitted by tears or saliva, but it is possible to be infected with HIV through oral sex or in rare cases through deep kissing, especially if you have open sores in your mouth or bleeding gums. For more information, see the following Fact Sheets:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 to 1.2 million U.S. residents are living with HIV infection or AIDS; about a quarter of them do not know they have it. About 75 percent of the 40,000 new infections each year are in men, and about 25 percent in women. About half of the new infections are in Blacks, even though they make up only 12 percent of the US population.
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Does Hiv Viral Load Affect Getting Or Transmitting Hiv
Yes.;Viral load is the amount of HIV in the blood of someone who has HIV. Taking HIV medicine daily as prescribed can make the viral load very lowso low that a test cant detect it .
People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
HIV medicine is a powerful tool for preventing sexual transmission of HIV. But it works only as long as the HIV-positive partner gets and keeps an undetectable viral load. Not everyone taking HIV medicine has an undetectable viral load. To stay undetectable, people with HIV must take HIV medicine every day as prescribed and visit their healthcare provider regularly to get a viral load test. Learn more.
Hiv Can Be Transmitted From Person To Person
Because HIV is a virus, it can be transmitted between people just like many other viruses. AIDS, on the other hand, is a condition a person acquires only after theyve contracted HIV.
The virus is transmitted from one person to another through the exchange of bodily fluids. Most commonly, HIV is transmitted through sex without condoms or shared needles. Less so, a mother can transmit the virus to their child during pregnancy.
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Suspected Or Known Exposure To Hiv But No Symptoms
If you have not been tested for HIV, call your doctor if:
- You suspect that you have been exposed to HIV.
- You have engaged in high-risk behaviour and are concerned that you were exposed to HIV.
- Your sex partner engages in high-risk behaviour.
- Your sex partner may have been exposed to HIV.
- Your sex partner has HIV.
- You have any of the symptoms listed above.
Getting tested for HIV can be scary, but the condition can be managed with treatment. So it is important to get tested if you think you have been exposed.
How Is Hiv Spread
The spread of HIV from person to person is called HIV transmission. HIV is spread only in certain body fluids from a person who has HIV. These body fluids include:
- Rectal fluids
- Breast milk
HIV transmission is only possible through contact with HIV-infected body fluids. In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by:
- Having anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV
- Sharing injection drug equipment , such as needles, with someone who has HIV
The spread of HIV from a woman with HIV to her child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding is called mother-to-child transmission of HIV. For more information, read the ClinicalInfo fact sheet on Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV.
You cant get HIV by shaking hands or hugging a person who has HIV. You also cant get HIV from contact with objects such as dishes, toilet seats, or doorknobs used by a person with HIV. HIV is not spread through the air or in water or by mosquitoes, ticks, or other blood-sucking insects. Use the ClinicalInfo You Can Safely ShareWith Someone With HIV infographic to spread this message.
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How Do You Get Hiv
HIV is carried in semen , vaginal fluids, anal mucus, blood, and breast milk. The virus gets in your body through cuts or sores in your skin, and through mucous membranes . You can get HIV from:
having vaginal or anal sex
sharing needles or syringes for shooting drugs, piercings, tattoos, etc.
getting stuck with a needle that has HIV-infected blood on it
getting HIV-infected blood, semen , or vaginal fluids into open cuts or sores on your body
HIV is usually spread through having unprotected sex. Using condoms and/or dental dams every time you have sex and not sharing needles can help protect you and your partners from HIV. If you do have HIV, treatment can lower or even stop the chances of spreading the virus to other people during sex. If you dont have HIV, theres also a daily medicine called;PrEP that can protect you from HIV.
HIV can also be passed to babies during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. A pregnant woman with HIV can take medicine to greatly reduce the chance that her baby will get HIV.
HIV isnt spread through saliva , so you CANT get HIV from kissing, sharing food or drinks, or using the same fork or spoon. HIV is also not spread through hugging, holding hands, coughing, or sneezing. And you cant get HIV from a toilet seat.
How Long Do I Need To Wait Before I Test
Thereâs a window period between exposure to HIV and a positive test because it takes time for your body to either build a response to the infection or for the virus to replicate enough for a test to detect it. HIV window periods can vary.
For example, if you have unprotected sex on a Friday night, and get an HIV test Monday morning, the test wonât be able to detect HIV or an immune response to HIV yet. There hasnât been enough time for a positive result, even if the virus is in your body.
To get the earliest, most accurate result, first consider when you were exposed and whether youâre showing symptoms.
- If you know exactly when you may have come into contact with the virus, take a test 3 months after that date. Tests 3 months after exposure should be 99% accurate.
- If you are having symptoms of HIV, see your doctor right away. Your doctor may want to use a test that can look for the virus directly in your body.
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Where Is It Widespread
HIV is spread throught the world, but Sub-Saharan Africa has the greatest number of people who are infected. The World Health Organization and the United Nations’ UNAIDS office estimate that more than a third of adults are infected with HIV in some areas of Africa. There are many case of HIV in South and Southeastern Asia. The numbers of people who have HIV in Eastern Europe are growing because of injection drug use.
There are two main types of the virus: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-2 is most commonly found in West Africa, although places in other parts of the world are seeing it, too. HIV tests usually look for both kinds.
What Are The Treatments For Hiv/aids
There is no cure for HIV infection, but it can be treated with medicines. This is called antiretroviral therapy . ART can make HIV infection a manageable chronic condition. It also reduces the risk of spreading the virus to others.
Most people with HIV live long and healthy lives if they get and stay on ART. It’s also important to take care of yourself. Making sure that you have the support you need, living a healthy lifestyle, and getting regular medical care can help you enjoy a better quality of life.
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Where Did Hiv Come From
The earliest known case of infection with HIV-1 in a human was detected in a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Genetic analysis of this blood sample suggested that HIV-1 may have stemmed from a single virus in the late 1940s or early 1950s.
We know that the virus has existed in the United States since at least the mid- to late 1970s. From 19791981 rare types of pneumonia, cancer, and other illnesses were being reported by doctors in Los Angeles and New York among a number of male patients who had sex with other men. These were conditions not usually found in people with healthy immune systems.
In 1982 public health officials began to use the term “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome,” or AIDS, to describe the occurrences of opportunistic infections, Kaposi’s sarcoma , and Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia in previously healthy people. Formal tracking of AIDS cases began that year in the United States.
In 1983, scientists discovered the virus that causes AIDS. The virus was at first named HTLV-III/LAV by an international scientific committee. This name was later changed to HIV .
For more information on this discovery, visit the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases press release. For information on the theory that HIV originated in polio vaccines, visit the CDC Vaccine Safety site.
Which Test Can Give Me Results The Soonest
The period of time also differs, depending on which kind of test you take. The different types of tests include:
- Antibody tests, which look for the antibodies — special proteins that help fight infection — that your body makes in reaction to an HIV infection. Most rapid tests and at-home tests are these kind. Antibody tests require the longest wait time after infection to get an accurate result. For most people — around 97% — this takes anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks. For some, it can take as long as 6 months.
- Combination or fourth-generation tests, which look for both antibodies and antigens. Antigens are part of the virus itself. One antigen, p24, is detectable before your body starts making antibodies. These tests are becoming more common in the U.S. They can tell you if you have HIV a little sooner than an antibody test can.
- Nucleic acid tests , which can detect HIV in your body the soonest after infection. The test looks for the virus in your blood. You need a certain amount of the virus in your blood before the test will detect it. This is called your viral load. You can get a negative test if your viral load is still low. A NAT can tell you if you have HIV as early as 7 to 28 days after infection. It gives the quickest result, but itâs also the most expensive. Doctors donât typically use it unless youâre at a high risk of exposure to HIV.
Youâre more likely to have a NAT if you:
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Is There A Vaccine For Hiv
Currently, there are no vaccines to prevent or treat HIV. Research and testing on experimental vaccines are ongoing, but none are close to being approved for general use.
HIV is a complicated virus. It mutates rapidly and is often able to fend off immune system responses. Only a small number of people who have HIV develop broadly neutralizing antibodies, the kind of antibodies that can respond to a range of HIV strains.
The first HIV vaccine efficacy study in 7 years was underway in South Africa in 2016. The experimental vaccine is an updated version of one used in a 2009 trial that took place in Thailand.
A 3.5-year follow-up after vaccination showed the vaccine was 31.2 percent effective in preventing HIV transmission.
The study involves 5,400 men and women from South Africa. In 2016 in South Africa, about contracted HIV. The results of the study are expected in 2021.
Other late-stage, multinational vaccine clinical trials are also currently underway.
Other research into an HIV vaccine is also ongoing.
While theres still no vaccine to prevent HIV, people with HIV can benefit from other vaccines to prevent HIV-related illnesses. Here are the CDC recommendations:
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Getting Hiv
To reduce your risk of HIV infection, use condoms correctly every time you have sex, limit your number of sexual partners, and never share injection drug equipment.
Also talk to your health care provider about pre-exposure prophylaxis . PrEP is an HIV prevention option for people who dont have HIV but who are at high risk of becoming infected with HIV. PrEP involves taking a specific HIV medicine every day. For more information, read the ClinicalInfo fact sheet on PrEP.
HIV medicines, given to women with HIV during pregnancy and childbirth and to their babies after birth, reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. In addition, because HIV can be transmitted in breast milk, women with HIV who live in the United States should not breastfeed their babies. Baby formula is a safe and healthy alternative to breast milk and is readily available in the United States.
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British Columbia Specific Information
Human Immunodeficiency Virus causes an infection that damages the immune system. The immune system is the part of the body that fights infection and disease. If untreated, HIV infection will lead to a serious disease called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome .
For information on HIV infection and care in British Columbia, visit BC Centre for Disease Control and BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. For information on HIV drug coverage in B.C., please visit the Ministry of Health BC PharmaCare website.
In B.C. HIV testing guidelines recommend that everyone have an HIV test at least every 5 years. They recommend more frequent testing for people who belong to populations that have a greater chance of having HIV, are pregnant, experience a change in their health that suggests HIV, or if someone requests a test. For information on HIV testing, see HealthLinkBC File #08m HIV and HIV Tests and HealthLinkBC File #38a HIV Testing in Pregnancy.