Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body's immune system. The immune system protects the body from infections and disease, but has no clear way to protect it from HIV. Over time, most people infected with HIV become less able to fight off the germs that we are all exposed to every day. Many of these germs do not usually make a healthy person sick, but they can cause life-threatening infections and cancers in a person whose immune system has been weakened by HIV.
People infected with HIV may have no symptoms for 10 or more years. They may not know they are infected. An HIV test is the only way to find out if you have HIV. See HIV Counseling and Testing for information and resources on HIV testing in New York State.
HIV is spread when infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk gets into the bloodstream of an individual through: direct entry into a blood vessel or through mucous linings, such as the vagina, rectum, penis, mouth, eyes, or nose, or a break in the skin.
FACTS ON HIV/ AIDS TRANSMISSION:
-HIV is NOT spread through saliva (spit).
-HIV is spread through: Vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected partner with no barrier such as a condom
-Sharing needles, syringes or works
-Women with HIV can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding.
-People who are exposed to blood and/or body fluids at work, may be exposed to HIV through needles or other on-the-job exposures.
-It may also be possible to pass HIV through sharing needles for piercing or tattooing.
-The chances of HIV transmision through oral sex is low but not impossible.
A person infected with HIV can pass the virus to others even if the person:
-Has no symptoms of HIV
-Has not been diagnosed with AIDS
-Is taking HIV medications
-Has an "undetectable" viral load
HIV is not spread by casual contact like sneezing, coughing, eating or drinking from common utensils, shaking hands, hugging, or use of restrooms and drinking fountains.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a late stage of HIV disease. There are medications that have helped people living with HIV or AIDS live longer, healthier lives. Some people have lived for more than 20 years and have taken medicines for more than 10 years. But, there is still no cure.
GET TESTED @ GMHC for HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis C (HCV)
GMHC HIV/AIDS Hotline 1.800.243.7692. or 212.367.1100