1 in 8 people have HIV & don’t know it.
HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s ability to fight and protect itself from infection and disease.
If left untreated, HIV can become AIDS which can leave the body open to deadly infections and cancers.
It is important to choose to practice safe sex and get tested.
How do people get it?
HIV is spread through unprotected sex (oral, vaginal and anal), drug needles, breast milk, blood and fluids from the penis, vagina and anus.
If a pregnant woman has HIV, she can take anti-HIV medications during pregnancy and delivery to prevent passing it to her baby. Her baby will also get anti-HIV medication for the first 6 weeks and will not be breastfed in order to prevent mom from giving it to baby.
Signs and treatment
Not everyone feels sick or has signs of HIV infection. For those who do, they may have flu-like symptoms 2-4 weeks after infection such as fever, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, mouth sores, or feeling swollen at the sides of the neck near the throat. This can last from a few days to several weeks.
Having any of the signs does not mean you have HIV. Getting tested is the only way to find out. In the beginning, HIV may not show up positive on an HIV test but can still be spread to other people.
HIV is treated with anti-HIV medications that work by preventing HIV from spreading in the body. This lowers damage and makes it easier for your body to continue to protect itself from deadly infections and cancers.
There is no cure but by following treatment, you can live a long and healthy life.
How can I protect myself?
- Practice safe sex by always using condoms (find free condoms)
- Talk to your doctor about taking a PrEP pill every day to prevent HIV
- Stop using and injecting illegal drugs
- Never share or use dirty needles
- Talk to your doctor about taking emergency prescription pills right away if you believe you have come in contact with HIV
- Follow regular treatment from your doctor if you have HIV
Where can I get tested?
Find free, fast, and confidential testing at a health care center near you.
HIV/AIDS guide: HIV and Its Treatment
Living with HIV: HIV Treatment Works; Get free help finding HIV medical care, housing assistance, substance abuse and mental health services even if you do not have health insurance or money to pay for health services.
Keep in mind that the PrEP pill does not prevent pregnancy, STDs and other infections. It is still very important to have safe sex and protect yourself by using condoms. Find free condoms near you.
Talk to your doctor or health care provider for more information.
If you don’t have a doctor, find a health center near you.
Text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948) to find a place to get tested near you.
Call your state HIV/AIDS hotline for free help with HIV medical care, housing and more.
– About HIV/AIDS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site. 1.usa.gov/1oiEneK. Updated December 06, 2015. Accessed February 06, 2016.
– Overview of HIV Treatments. AIDS.gov web site. 1.usa.gov/1ysqN7e. Updated August 13, 2015. Accessed February 06, 2016.
– HIV and Its Treatment. AIDS info web site. 1.usa.gov/1QP5xTS. Reviewed August 2012. Accessed February 06, 2016.
Page last reviewed: March 8, 2017 Page last updated: March 8, 2017