HIV / AIDS
AIDS is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is caused by the human immuno deficiency virus (HIV). HIV is found in semen, pre-ejaculatory fluid, vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk of HIV infected people. HIV destroys a type of white blood cell the immune system uses to fight disease. AIDS occurs when the body’s immune system has been severely damaged and is the final stage of HIV infection. People with AIDS are vulnerable to life threatening infections and cancers.
When does a person become ill?
Most people with HIV look and feel healthy. The average length of time between exposure to the virus and onset of symptoms is 8-10 years or more. With current medical therapies, this time can be extended. Because of the delay of symptoms, many people may not suspect they are infected with HIV and can spread the virus to others.
What are the symptoms of HIV infection?
Some people develop flu-like symptoms (fever, body aches, and lymph node swelling) about 2-4 weeks after first exposure to HIV. This is called an “acute” or “primary” HIV infection. The symptoms go away on their own, within several weeks.
There may be no further symptoms for the next 10 years, although the virus is actively multiplying and slowly damaging the immune system (unless treatment is administered). Eventually, when the immune system is so damaged it can no longer function adequately, people develop symptoms which can include fevers, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, persistent cough, fatigue and skin rashes.
What treatments are available?
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. However, there are medications called highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, that slow the progression of HIV infection. As a result, there are now many people living with HIV/AIDS. The infections and cancers that AIDS causes can often be treated.
How do people get HIV?
HIV is contracted by contact with body fluids and blood.
Risky behaviors that put you at risk for HIV include:
- Unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex (that is, not using a condom, unless your partner is known to be HIV negative).
- Sharing needles during intravenous drug use, anabolic steroid use, tattooing or body piercing.
- Blood and blood product transfusions especially before 1985. This risk has been drastically reduced through the combination of screening donors and testing blood before it’s used.
- Needle stick accidents in a health care setting. Treatment with antiretroviral medications can be used to prevent infection.
- Mother to infant transmission. Women who have HIV infection can transmit the virus to their babies, pre-birth or during delivery and through breast milk. Drug therapy given to HIV+ mothers during pregnancy and to infants after birth reduces the possibility of transmission.
HIV IS NOT TRANSMITTED BY CASUAL CONTACT
Repeated, carefully designed and monitored scientific studies prove that there is no risk of transmitting HIV by sharing the same space, classroom, athletic or recreational facilities, sauna, swimming pool, bathroom, food, eating utensils, clothing, or books with someone who has HIV infection. Ordinary objects and surfaces used by people with HIV infection present no danger and need not be feared. HIV is not transmitted by coughing or sneezing. Neither animals nor insects can transmit HIV.
There is no chance of transmitting HIV through sexual activities that do not involve direct contact of semen, pre-ejaculatory fluid, vaginal secretions or blood.
Touching, stroking, massage and masturbation, alone or with a partner, do not transmit HIV as long as the fluids mentioned previously do not come in contact with an opening, cut or sore (break in skin).
Kissing: No case of HIV infection has been traced to exposure to saliva in any circumstance. If blood is present, there is a hypothetical risk of exposure.
How can I reduce my risk of acquiring HIV through sexual contact?
- Abstaining from anal, vaginal or oral sexual intercourse provides protection against the sexual transmission of HIV.
For individuals who choose to have sexual intercourse, use a latex condom. Condoms provide effective, though not perfect, protection against the transmission of HIV. For this high level of protection, it is important that condoms be used consistently and correctly.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR PUTTING ON A CONDOMS
- Wait until the penis is erect to put on the condom.
- Pinch the air out of the tip of the condom allowing for a reservoir that will hold the ejaculate. Unroll the condom carefully all the way down over the erect penis.
- Use water-based lubricants such as KY Jelly, Wet, Astroglide, or other lubricants that say they may be used with latex condoms. Do not use hand lotions, Vaseline or other oil-based lubricants.
- After intercourse, withdraw the penis immediately, holding onto the rim of the condom to prevent spilling.
- Never reuse a condom.
- Avoid use of alcohol and other drugs before and during sexual activity. These substances can limit your ability to use the safer sex precautions listed above. They can also impair judgment and make communication with your partner difficult.
- Nonoxynol –9 does not provide protection against HIV and may increase the possibility of HIV transmission.
- Birth control pills and other hormonal methods provide no protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
- Dental dams, plastic wrap or latex barriers made by cutting a non-lubricated condom can be used for oral/genital sex with a female or oral/anal sex with a male or female.
- If you choose to share sex toys with your partner, each partner should use a new condom on the sex toy and be sure to clean the sex toys between each use.
- Communication– know your partner. Discuss and use safer sex. Communication can help build strong, caring relationships but communication alone is not enough to protect you. Use safer sex precautions with every partner. Avoid giving up safer sex as a way to show your love and commitment in a relationship
- Limit the number of lifetime sexual partners.
- Get tested. Ask your partner(s) to be tested.
Counseling and Testing
Counseling should always provide information about whether the test is anonymous (no records with personal identification) or confidential (a personal medical record).
- Positive Link, 333 E. Miller Dr., 353-9150, HIV, Hepatitis B & C, and Syphilis testing. www.iuhealth.org/Bloomington/for-patients/community-health/prevention-services/
- IU Health Center, 600 N. Jordan Ave. Call 855-7688 to make an appointment for HIV antibody testing. Results in 20-40 minutes.
- Planned Parenthood, 421 S. College Ave., 336-0219; HIV testing by appointment; results in 20-40 minutes.
- Monroe County Health Department Future’s Clinic ,338 S. Walnut St., 349-7343 . HIV, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia testing by appointment.
- Positive Link provides support to people with HIV and AIDS. Call 353-9150 to volunteer or to inquire about services.
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS), Indiana University Health Center, 855-5711.
- Center for Human Growth, Indiana University School of Education, 856-8302
- Health & Wellness Education, Indiana University Health Center, 855-7338, provides free HIV/AIDS education to classes, IU clubs, residence halls, fraternities, sororities and individuals.
- Community AIDS Action Group of South Central Indiana (CAAG), Network of AIDS service providers and educators. Meets monthly. Call 353-5353 or visit www.thecaag.org for more information.
- CDC, STD & AIDS Hotline, 1-800-232-4636, Centers for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov
- American Social Health Association http://www.ashastd.org