How Much Do You Know About HIV?

 

Photo: www.abc.net.au 

Did You Know:

red ribbon     About 50,000 Americans get infected with HIV each year.

red ribbon    1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S.

red ribbon    12.8% of people do not know they are infected

 

Here are some commonly asked questions about HIV:

 

red ribbon Can I get HIV from casual contact?

HIV is spread only in certain body fluids from a person infected with HIV. These fluids are blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by having sex or sharing injection drug equipment, such as needles, with someone who has HIV. For more information, visit https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/education-materials/fact-sheets/20/48/the-basics-of-hiv-prevention

red ribbon  Can I get HIV from oral sex?

Even though oral sex carries a lower risk of HIV transmission than other sexual activities, the risk is not zero. It is difficult to measure the exact risk because people who practice oral sex may also practice other forms of sex during the same encounter. When transmission occurs, it may be the result of oral sex or other, riskier sexual activities, such as anal or vaginal sex.

If the person receiving oral sex has HIV, their blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, or vaginal fluid may contain the virus. If the person performing oral sex has HIV, blood from their mouth may enter the body of the person receiving oral sex through the lining of the urethra (the opening at the tip of the penis), vagina, cervix, or anus, or through cuts and sores.

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/oralsex.html

red ribbon  Is Abstinence the only 100% effective sexual HIV prevention option?

Unfortunately, condoms do not have a 100% effective rate. However, they can lower your chances of acquiring HIV by a substantial amount. Knowing your partner and their status, knowing your own status, and keeping each other safe are great ways to reduce your risk of acquiring HIV.

red ribbon  How often should I get tested for HIV?

The HIV virus can be in your blood stream for up to 3 months after being contracted without being detectable on a test. What this means is, if I acquire HIV today and take an HIV test tomorrow, the results may not show HIV antibodies in my system yet. It is recommended that everyone be tested every 3-6 months regularly for this reason.

red ribbon  T/F If I don’t believe I am at high risk, I shouldn’t get tested

Being tested for HIV should be a regular test, just like STI testing. If your partner asks about your status, you want to be able to say for sure what it is and for them to be sure about theirs as well. If you are positive, there are many treatments available to help you live a long and healthy life, but the key is early detection. Being tested every 3-6 months helps you to know your status for sure and to be as honest and healthy as possible.

red ribbon  T/F If I know my partner well enough, I don’t need to worry about their status.

Being sure of your partner’s status is just as important as wearing a condom or anything else you might do to keep yourself safe. If your partner isn’t sure about their status, you can’t be sure about it either. If they don’t know, how can they tell you? This is one of the best ways to keep you and your partners safe.

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