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HIV Facts - AIDS 101

Human Immunodeficiency Virus

(HIV) is a chronic infectious disease that leads to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV belongs to a group of viruses known as retroviruses and it causes a breakdown of the body’s immune system. Upon infection, HIV contributes to a loss in the body’s ability to resist disease. This leaves the infected person susceptible to opportunistic infections and other diseases. Such infections do not usually cause disease in healthy people. Opportunistic infections may include any one of a variety of bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infections. Also, certain types of cancer may be recognized in the HIV-infected person. As HIV progresses, the body’s immune system weakens, opportunistic infections and/or cancer appear, and the infected individual’s condition satisfies the case definition of AIDS.

HIV cannot be transmitted through casual contact, such as sharing eating utensils, toilets or bathrooms, mosquito/bug bites, drinking fountains, swimming pools, or routine activities at work or school. Since 1986, all blood, plasma and other tissue/organs have been screened for HIV before they are used. Transmission of HIV most commonly occurs by: Blood to Blood contact with an infected person (sharing needles, injected drug use, razors, non-sterile piercing and tattoo equipment), unprotected sexual contact, such as anal, vaginal, or oral intercourse with an infected individual, and/or an infected mother to baby through pregnancy, delivery and in some cases, breast feeding.

Who should be tested?

  • Sex and drug-using partners of HIV-infected persons
  • People seeking diagnosis and treatment for sexually-transmitted infections
  • Injection drug users, including steroid users
  • People who have patronized prostitutes or sex industry workers
  • Men/young males who have sex with other men/young males, gay or bi-sexual
  • Women who are pregnant or seeking pregnancy
  • Persons who have had multiple sex partners
  • Persons who have had unprotected sex

Protect yourself and others!

Do not engage in behaviors that will place you at risk!

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