Suspected Or Known Exposure To Hiv But No Symptoms
If you have not been tested for HIV, call your doctor right away to see if you should start medicine to prevent HIV 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.
Public health units, sexual health clinics, and other organizations may provide free or low-cost confidential testing and counselling about HIV and high-risk behaviour.
What Is The Difference Between Hiv And Aids
The term AIDS refers to the most advanced stages of HIV infection. Most of the conditions affecting people with AIDS are opportunistic infections that generally do not affect healthy people. In people with AIDS, these infections are often severe and sometimes fatal because the immune system is so ravaged by HIV that the body cannot fight off the infection. Symptoms of opportunistic infections common in people with AIDS include:
- coughing and shortness of breath
- seizures and lack of coordination
- difficult or painful swallowing
- severe headaches
People with AIDS also are particularly prone to developing various cancers. These cancers are usually more aggressive and difficult to treat in people with AIDS.
Needle And Syringe Programs
Needle and syringe programs provide clean needles or syringes to people who inject drugs, reducing the risk of the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C. This is sometimes referred to as needle exchange.
The types of NSP outlet vary, from participating pharmacies to vending machines. Find an NSP in your state or territory:
You can also find a local needle and syringe program using the healthdirect Service Finder. Select By name and type needle into the search bar.
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Hiv Transmission Risk Factors And Prevention
Yaroslav Danylchenko/Stocksy Everyday Health
When the human immunodeficiency virus causes infection, it attacks certain immune system cells called T helper cells, or CD4 cells. The virus replicates itself and, over time, damages its host cells, impairing the body’s ability to fight off infections and making it susceptible to other diseases. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, is the final stage of an infection with HIV.
Anyone can get HIV, but certain populations are at greater risk. There are, however, a number of ways to reduce your risk, and certain medicines and precautions can prevent the spread of the virus.
Hiv Diagnosis And ‘window Period’
You wonât know if you have HIV right after youâre infected. It takes time for your body to make antibodies and for antigens to show up.
The âwindow periodâ is the time between when you might have been exposed to HIV and a test can tell for sure you have it. This varies from person to person and test to test. Your testing counselor can tell you more about the window period for the test youâre taking. Here are some general guidelines:
An antibody test can detect HIV 23 to 90 days after youâre exposed to the virus. The window for a test that uses blood from a vein is faster than one that uses oral fluid or blood from a finger stick.
An antigen/antibody test done in a lab on blood from a vein can detect HIV infection within 18 to 45 days. It takes longer if the testâs done with blood from a finger stick.
A nucleic acid test usually has the shortest window: 10 to 33 days. This test is not generally used to diagnose HIV infection unless you have symptoms and a history that suggest you were infected only a few days ago.
If you have a negative test and werenât exposed to the virus during the window period for that test, you can be certain you didnât have HIV when you were tested.
The CDC recommends that all adults have an HIV test at least once, even if theyâre not at risk. If your risk is higher — for example, you have multiple sex partners or use needles for drugs — you should be tested every year.
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Men Who Have Sex With Men
Gay or bisexual MSM are the most severely affected population. MSM account for just a small fraction of the total U.S. population, yet nearly two-thirds of all new infections occurred within this group in 2009, and one-half of all people living with HIV in 2008 were MSM. MSM within ethnic minority populations are at greatest risk .
What Are My Chances Of Contracting Hiv
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What is HIV?
Human immunodeficiency virus attacks and weakens the immune system, making an individual more vulnerable to serious illness. Untreated HIV can lead to AIDS, which occurs when the immune system is so weak it becomes susceptible to serious infections and some cancers.
Theres an epidemic of HIV in the United States and around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and 1 in 7 of them arent aware of it. An estimated 39,782 people in the country were diagnosed with HIV in 2016 alone.
HIV transmission occurs in many different ways, including through condomless sex and by sharing needles. Risk of transmission varies depending on several factors including:
- sexual practices and the HIV status of sexual partners
- sharing needles for drug use or tattoos
- use of PrEP, PEP, condoms, or having an undetectable viral load
Its important to understand the risk level based on actual factors in preventing the transmission of HIV.
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How Can A Woman Reduce Her Chances Of Contracting Hiv
HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids like blood and semen. Using injection drugs, having unprotected sex and having multiple sex partners increases the chances of acquiring HIV. The only way to be absolutely certain you do not become infected with HIV is to not have sex and not use injection drugs. You also can avoid infection by only having one sex partner as long as your partner does not have HIV and has sex only with you. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention , using a male or female condom every time you have vaginal or anal sex can greatly lower your risk of infection. Using condoms for oral sex will reduce your risk for other STDs as well. It also is important not to douche, since douching removes some of the normal vaginal bacteria that can protect you from infection.
How Hiv Is Spread
HIV is spread when blood, semen, or vaginal fluids from an infected person enter another person’s body, usually through:
- Sexual contact. The virus may enter the body through a tear in the lining of the rectum, vagina, urethra, or mouth. Most cases of HIV are spread this way.
- Infected blood. HIV can be spread when a person:
- Is accidentally stuck with a needle or other sharp item that is contaminated with HIV.
HIV may be spread more easily in the early stage of infection and again later, when symptoms of HIV-related illness develop.
A woman who is infected with HIV can spread the virus to her baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.
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Hiv Transmission Can Occur After Only One Exposure
Assigning an actual percentage to the “riskiness” of a certain activity is a tricky business. While statistics may suggest that there is only a 1-in-200 chance of getting infected by such-and-such activity, that doesn’t mean you cant get infected after only one exposure.
Instead, a 0.5% “per exposure” risk is meant to indicate that an average of one infection will occur out of 200 people who engage in a particular activity. It doesn’t mean that you need to do something 200 times in order to get infected.
It’s important to remember that risk estimates are based on two factors and two factors alonethat one person has HIV and the other doesn’t. Additional co-factors, such as co-existing sexually transmitted infections , general health, and the infected person’s viral load, can further compound risk until a low-risk activity is suddenly considerably higher.
How Hiv Is Transmitted
HIV is not passed on easily from one person to another. The virus does not spread through the air like cold and flu viruses.
HIV lives in the blood and in some body fluids. To get HIV, 1 of these fluids from someone with HIV has to get into your blood.
The body fluids that contain enough HIV to infect someone are:
- vaginal fluids, including menstrual blood
- breast milk
- contact with animals or insects like mosquitoes
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What Are Some Of The Most Common Opportunistic Infections
Some of the most common OIs in people living with HIV in the U.S. are:
- Herpes simplex virus 1 infectiona viral infection that can cause sores on the lips and mouth
- Salmonella infectiona bacterial infection that affects the intestines
- Candidiasis a fungal infection of the mouth, bronchi, trachea, lungs, esophagus, or vagina
- Toxoplasmosisa parasitic infection that can affect the brain
Visit CDC for a detailed list.
What Can People Infected With Hiv Do To Reduce Their Risk Of Cancer Or To Find Cancer Early
Taking cART as indicated based on current HIV treatment guidelines lowers the risk of Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma and increases overall survival.
The risk of lung, oral, and other cancers can be reduced by quitting smoking. Because HIV-infected people have a higher risk of lung cancer, it is especially important that they do not smoke. Help with quitting smoking is available through the National Cancer Institutes smoking quitline at 18774487848 and other NCI resources, which are listed on the Tobacco page.
The higher incidence of liver cancer among HIV-infected people appears to be related to more frequent infection with hepatitis virus than among HIV-uninfected people . Therefore, HIV-infected individuals should know their hepatitis status.
In addition, if HIV-infected people currently have viral hepatitis, they should discuss with their health care provider whether antiviral treatment is an option for them . Some drugs may be used for both HBV-suppressing therapy and cART .
Because HIV-infected women have a higher risk of cervical cancer, it is important that they be screened regularly for this disease. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination against human papillomavirus for women and men with HIV infection up to age 26 years. Cervical cancer screening guidelines that incorporate results of a Pap test and an HPV DNA test are evolving, and women should discuss screening options with their healthcare provider .
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How Can You Prevent Hiv
HIV is often spread by people who don’t know they have it. So it’s always important to protect yourself and others by taking these steps:
- Practice safer sex. Use a condom every time you have sex until you are sure that you and your partner aren’t infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted infection .
- Don’t have more than one sex partner at a time. The safest sex is with one partner who has sex only with you.
- Talk to your partner before you have sex the first time. Find out if he or she is at risk for HIV. Get tested together. Use condoms in the meantime.
- Don’t drink a lot of alcohol or use illegal drugs before sex. You might let down your guard and not practice safer sex.
- Don’t share personal items, such as toothbrushes or razors.
- Never share needles or syringes with anyone.
If you are at high risk for getting infected with HIV, you can take antiretroviral medicine to help protect yourself from HIV infection. Experts may recommend this for:footnote 1, footnote 2
- People whose sexual practices put them at high risk for HIV infection, such as men who have sex with men and people who have many sex partners.
- People who inject illegal drugs, especially if they share needles.
- Adults who have a sex partner with HIV.
To keep your risk low, you still need to practice safer sex even while you are taking the medicine.
Hiv And Injecting Drug Use In Msm And Trans Women
Men who have sex with men are more than twice as likely to inject drugs than other men, most of whom are white and under age 35. Trans women and other transfeminine people are also more likely to use injection drugs compared to the general population. The drug methamphetamine is especially troubling as it increases the risk of HIV by 50% compared to other injected drugs .
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We Know That Men Who Have Sex With Men In Illinois Are At Higher Risk For Hiv What About Women Who Have Sex With Women
It is not a personâs gender, sexual orientation, race or class that puts them at risk for HIV. People are at risk for HIV when they practice risky behaviors. Women who identify as lesbian or gay can be at risk for HIV by practicing any of the behaviors that place women at risk. Lesbian women have become infected with HIV by using injection drugs or having unprotected sex with male or female partners who are already infected with HIV. Women who have sex with other women should follow guidelines in this fact sheet to protect themselves, and can call the Illinois AIDS/HIV/STD Hotline at 800-243-AIDS for specific information.
If You Already Have Hiv
If you are infected with HIV, you can greatly lower the risk of spreading the infection to your sex partner by starting treatment when your immune system is still healthy.
Experts recommend starting treatment as soon as you know you are infected.footnote 21
Studies have shown that early treatment greatly lowers the risk of spreading HIV to an uninfected partner.footnote 22, footnote 23
Your partner may also be able to take medicine to prevent getting infected.footnote 17 This is called pre-exposure prophylaxis .
Steps to avoid spreading HIV
If you are infected with HIV, you can greatly lower the risk of spreading the infection to your sex partner by starting treatment when your immune system is still healthy.
- Take antiretroviral medicines. Getting treated for HIV can help prevent the spread of HIV to people who are not infected.
- Tell your sex partner or partners about your behaviour and whether you are HIV-positive.
- Follow safer sex practices, such as using condoms.
- Do not donate blood, plasma, semen, body organs, or body tissues.
- Do not share personal items, such as toothbrushes, razors, or sex toys, that may be contaminated with blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.
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When Should I Get Tested For Hiv
If you think you could have HIV or are at risk of HIV, talk to your doctor or sexual health clinic about having a test. Some people at high risk need to be tested regularly.
You should get tested for HIV if:
- you have had unprotected sex with a partner whose HIV status is unknown or who has HIV but does not have a measurable amount of virus in their blood
- you have had unprotected sex with a person from a country that has high rates of HIV infection
- your sexual partner has recently travelled to a country that has high rates of HIV infection and may have had unprotected sex there
- you have had unprotected sex with a sex worker in Africa, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia or Papua New Guinea
- you have ever shared injecting equipment
Early diagnosis is important and can improve the long-term course of the illness.
It is a good idea to talk to your doctor or sexual health clinic about other STIs at the same time.
Your information will be kept confidential unless there are major concerns for your safety or the safety of others. HIV is a notifiable disease, which means laboratory staff need to inform the government about new cases, but this information is also confidential.
Can Medications Prevent Hiv
There are medications that can help prevent HIV in people who have been exposed or are at high risk for exposure. These include pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis .
PrEP is a pill you take every day if you dont have HIV but are at high risk of getting infected.
Specifically, its recommended that you take PrEP if you dont have HIV, if you have had anal or vaginal sex in the past six months and at least one of the following is true:
- You have a sexual partner with HIV.
- You havent consistently used a condom.
- In the past six months, youve been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease .
PrEP is also recommended if you dont have HIV, you inject drugs and at least one of the following is true:
- You inject drugs with a partner who has HIV.
- You share needles or other equipment to inject drugs.
PrEP is not a replacement for other preventative measures. You should still use condoms and avoid sharing needles to inject drugs while taking PrEP.
PEP uses HIV medicines to try to prevent an HIV infection soon after you are exposed. PEP is for those who dont have HIV or dont know if they have HIV and think theyve been exposed through consensual sex, sexual assault, shared needles , or work.
You must start PEP within 72 hours of exposure and take it every day for 28 days. PEP is only for emergency use and does not replace other precautions, like condom use.
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