Did you know you can reduce your chances of becoming infected with HIV by taking 1 pill per day? LEARN MORE ABOUT PrEP BELOW
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus can only infect humans. HIV attacks the body’s immune system, destroying important CD4 (T cells) which help the immune system fight off infections. HIV reproduces itself by taking over in the body of CD4 (T cells) and making copies of itself. If left untreated, the body’s immune system will become too weak to fight off any new infections or disease. Once the body is infected with an opportunist infection or cancer, it is a sign that the person has AIDS, the last stage of HIV infection.
“AIDS” stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is not something that you can inherit from your parents. You acquire AIDS after birth. AIDS is when your immune system is "deficient," or isn't working the way it should it. AIDS is a syndrome, rather than a single disease, because it is a complex illness with a wide range of complications and symptoms. An AIDS diagnosis is given when the body has lower than 200 T-cells, the virus is undetectable and the person has an opportunist infection.
The only way to determine if you have HIV is to get tested. The signs and symptoms of HIV can be very similar to other common symptoms people may get from the flu. An ongoing fever is the most common sign of HIV. Other symptoms include headache, swollen glands sore throat rash, fatigue, muscle and joint aches and pains. These can last a few days up to a few weeks. You should not assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptoms. Each of these symptoms can be caused by other illnesses. And some people who have HIV do not show any symptoms at all for 10 years or more.
Approximately 50,000 new HIV infections occur in the United States each year. Gay and bisexual men have the largest number of new diagnoses in the United States. Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Also, transgender women who have sex with men are among the groups at highest risk for HIV infection, and injection drug users remain at significant risk for getting HIV. Risky behaviors, like having anal or vaginal sex without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV, and sharing needles or syringes play a big role in HIV transmission. Anal sex is the highest-risk sexual behavior. If you don’t have HIV, being a receptive partner (or bottom) for anal sex is the highest-risk sexual activity for getting HIV. If you do have HIV, being the insertive partner (or top) for anal sex is the highest-risk sexual activity for transmitting HIV.
Today, more tools than ever are available to prevent HIV. You can use strategies such as abstinence (not having sex), limiting your number of sexual partners, never sharing needles, and using condoms the right way every time you have sex. You may also be able to take advantage of newer HIV prevention medicines such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
With advancements in treatment options, HIV is now a manageable disease and with the proper care you can live a full and happy life.
AltaMed has been dedicated to providing quality HIV care to diverse communities for over 48 years . Click Here to schedule a Free visit at the nearest AltaMed in the Los Angeles or Orange County area.
For those outside of the AltaMed service area, please Click Here to find care near you.
PEP (Post-exposure Prophylaxis) is an emergency short-term treatment taken within 72 hours after being exposed to HIV and is effective in preventing HIV infection. GO TO THE NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM OR URGENT CARE PROVIDER TO START A PEP TREATMENT REGIMEN.
PEP (Post-exposure Prophylaxis) is an emergency short-term treatment taken within 72 hours after being exposed to HIV and is effective in preventing HIV infection. TO SEE IF PEP IS RIGHT FOR YOU, START BY TAKING A FREE HIV TEST