is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and HIV Infection?
50% of new HIV infections occur among people under age 25. Every
hour in the USA, two teenagers will contract HIV.
40,000 and 50,000 Americans become infected with HIV every year.
Half of them are between the ages of 13 and 24. That means at least
two teenagers and young adults in this country are infected with
HIV every hour of every day.
is a deficiency of the body's immune system to fight a variety of
infections and cancers. AIDS is the final (and fatal) stage that
results from the infection of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
HIV is the most dangerous of all the STDs because there is still
no cure or vaccine. New treatments have been developed to slow down
the effects of the virus and people with AIDS are living longer
than ever before, but it is still very deadly! Once you have the
virus, you have it forever. Anyone is at risk for AIDS whether they
are gay or straight. Initially AIDS was found mainly among gay men.
But that group's infection rate has decreased through education
and "safe sex". NOW the number of cases being reported
at HIGH rates is among heterosexual young adults and teenagers.
studies show that 26% of sexually active teenagers think its
impossible to get HIV through oral sex, and 15% more don't know
whether people can contract HIV this way. The truth: it is possible.
"Safe Sex" = using latex condoms with every
act of sex.
dental or vaginal dams with every act of oral sex. Use a latex condom
every time you perform oral-penile sex (fellatio). Use plastic food
wrap, a latex condom cut open, or a dental dam when performing oral-vaginal
sex (cunnilingus) or oral-anal sex (anilingus) (source: CDC). Use
a condom every time you have anal sex.These methods provide a physical
barrier to HIV transmission and will also help keep you safe from
other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), many of which can increase
your risk of contracting HIV or giving it to someone else.
Incubation Period Variable. About
1 - 6 months from the time of infection to the time of detectable
antibodies in the blood. The time from HIV infection to the diagnosis
of AIDS has been noted to be anywhere from 2 months to 10 years
or longer. So, even if you tested negative last week, that still
means you might be positive in four months or so. Testing is IMPORTANT,
get tested, but still use safe sex.
passed through blood and bodily fluids. Mainly semen, blood and
vaginal secretions. (Also breast milk). Infection can happen in
Sexual intercourse with an infected person.
Anal intercourse with an infected person.
Sharing needles and other paraphernalia for injecting drugs with
an infected person (this includes using steroids and "skin
Infected blood or blood products given by blood transfusions or
other medical treatments. (This is very rare in the U.S. and Canada
as all blood is screened for the HIV infection.)
Giving birth (if YOU are infected with HIV). About 1 in 4 HIV-positive
mothers will infect their babies either during birth, while pregnant,
(the virus crosses the placenta to the fetus), or by breast feeding.It
can take 10 years (or more) for the HIV virus to develop into full-blown
AIDS. Once you are infected you will eventually develop AIDS, even
though new drugs can slow down this process. Eventually the breakdown
of the immune system will occur and the person becomes fatally vulnerable
to diseases that healthy people rarely die from. Even the flu can
kill a person with AIDS.
Tested for AIDS
AIDS virus can be detected by a blood test. The virus takes anywhere
from three to six months to be detected in the body. The test is
totally confidential. You are often assigned a number when tested
and no name is used. You can get tested without parental consent.
The blood test is often inexpensive at clinics or at the local Health
Department. Your private health care provider can also test you.
Its important to get tested at a place that provides counseling,
because counselors can help you understand what your test results
mean, answer questions about how to protect yourself and others,
and refer you to local HIV-related resources.
(Update: For more on home testing see the Sexuality FAQ page 11.
If you are sexually active -- get tested -- you will feel great
when you find out you are negative. Then stay that way by using
If you are not sexually active and don't inject drugs, you don't
need to worry about contracting HIV. If you ARE sexually active:
DON'T GET AIDS in the first place! PROTECT YOURSELF! It is that
Four Ways to NOT Get AIDS:
have sex without a latex condom and spermicide (spermicides do weaken
and even kill the virus). USE them together! Every time! Update:
There is now some debate whether spermicides should be used with
condoms for HIV protection (still good for contraception, however).
See this article for more on this topic. Nonoxynol-9 and condoms.
If you have an open cut inside your mouth, DO NOT have oral sex
with anyone. Condoms should be used for oral sex (there are flavored
ones). Use a dental
dam if you are having oral sex. Use a condom with every
act of anal sex.
you are a drug-user who uses needles, NEVER share needles with anyone.
If you decide to get a tattoo or body piecing, make sure it is done
with sterile equipment and by a reputable person.
You cannot get AIDS from kissing, hugging, or holding hands.
AIDS is NOT spread from sneezing, coughing, or toilet seats.
You can't catch AIDS from sitting near, being friends with or talking
to someone who has it.
You cannot get AIDS from donating blood. HIV is scary stuff, but
this is not meant to scare you. Its meant to inform you. There
is still no cure and no vaccine to prevent AIDS. Thankfully, the
virus that causes AIDS isnt easy to pass from one person to
another. If you know someone who has AIDS you should not be afraid
of friendly contact with them. They need all the friends and support
they can get.
Remember, one in 250 Americans is HIV positive; but only one in
500 knows it. If you think you are at risk. Get tested. End of lecture.
the expiration date on the condoms wrapper before you use one!
use oil-based lubricants with condoms! Use KY-Jelly, Wet,
Astroglide or other water-based lubricants, there are many brands
now, even flavored lubricants that are safe if ingested.
use a condom more than once!
and condoms - February, 2005 -- There is still
some controversy over this, will keep readers updated. But check
out that article. Nonoxynol-9 is still a good spermicide, but
not for HIV protection.
AIDS Links and Resources:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a 24-hour toll-free
hotline to answer questions about HIV testing and refer you to testing
sites in your area of the USA.
The numbers are:1-800-342-2437 (English)
1-800-243-7889 (TTY/deaf access)
AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project
amFar AIDS Research - (American Foundation for AIDS Research)
The nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the support
of AIDS research and education, support and advocacy.