What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV attacks the body's immune system, the part of the body that fights off infection. HIV specifically attacks a white blood cell called the CD4 orT cell which the body needs to fight off diseases.
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and is the last stage of an HIV infection. When someone is diagnosed with AIDS it means that HIV has destroyed the body’s immune system so much that the body cannot fight infections. When a person is diagnosed with one or more specific diseases or cancers and has a very low CD4 count he/she is diagnosed with AIDS.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV is found in blood, semen or pre-ejaculate (pre-cum), vaginal fluids and breast milk. Because of this, unprotected sex (vaginal, oral and anal) with an infected person is a risk for HIV. Sharing needles and syringes with an infected person is also a risk. Pregnant mothers can pass HIV on to their babies during pregnancy. HIV is not spread through sweat, tears, urine or saliva.You cannot get HIV from casual contact such as hugging, shaking hands or casual kissing. You also cannot get HIV from toilet seats, drinking fountains, door knobs, glasses and silverware, family pets or mosquitoes. Since 1985, all blood donated in the United States is tested for HIV.
How can HIV be prevented?
Abstaining from, or not having, vaginal, oral or anal sex is the best way of preventing sexual transmission of HIV. If you choose to have sex, use latex or polyurethane condoms and a water-based lubricant. Natural condoms (lamb skin) do not protect from HIV/STDs.
If you inject drugs use only clean needles, syringes and other equipment; never share needles or other equipment with others.
There are no early symptoms of HIV.The only way to know you have HIV is to get tested. It is very important to talk about safer sex with your partners and ask your partners if they have been tested for HIV. If you think you have been exposed to another STD like Gonorrhea, Chlamydia or Syphilis get tested and treated. Having one STD increases your risk of contracting HIV if you are ever exposed.You can locate an HIV testing provider by visiting www.hivtest.org or calling 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).
All information from: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/basic/index.html