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S E X U A L L Y   T R A N S M I T T E D   D I S E A S E S:
HIV Infection


What is it? Infections are caused either by viruses or bacteria. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can cause AIDS (Auto-Immune Deficiency Syndrome). AIDS damages the body's ability to fight infections. It is the last stage of HIV infection and it can kill you.

How do you get it? HIV is transmitted from person to person in three ways:

  • Unprotected sexual contact (vaginal, oral, or anal) with someone who has HIV
  • Blood to blood contact with someone infected with HIV. This includes sharing unsterile needles during IV drug use.
  • Through breast milk

What are the Symptoms?

  • Constant fatigue
  • Unexplained fever, chills, or drenching night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss greater than 10 pounds
  • Unexplained swollen glands
  • Pink/purple flat or raised blotches on or under the skin
  • Constant diarrhea
  • Persistent white spots in the mouth
  • Dry cough, shortness of breath.

Sometimes there are no symptoms but a person still tests "positive" for HIV (that means they have been infected with the virus).

How can you know for sure? Only a doctor (or clinic) can tell if you have been infected with HIV by administering a blood test called the HIV antibody test.

How is it treated? There is no cure for HIV infection. Drugs are available to help fight the spread of the infection throughout the body. Drugs are also available to treat different illnesses which HIV infected people get because their bodies cannot fight them off. Pneumonia is a common one.

What can happen if you don't take care of it? People with AIDS can develop certain life-threatening diseases. If a woman has HIV, she can pass the virus to her fetus who can then develop AIDS. If HIV infected people do not practice safe (protected) sex, they can spread the virus to others. (That's how the AIDS epidemic began and grew.) Also sharing needles with an HIV infected person can spread the virus.

UNPROTECTED SEX AND NEEDLE SHARING PUT YOU AT HIGH RISK FOR GETTING HIV.

 

 

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