STDs & Safe Sex
What is it?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). HIV is transmitted through body fluids (semen and blood), through sexual intercourse, sharing needles, receiving contaminated blood or blood products, and from mother to child during pregnancy.
HIV is not spread by touching, kissing, sneezing, coughing, sharing silverware, cups or dishes. It is not spread by swimming pools, showers, toilet seats, drinking fountains, or insect bites.
How is it harmful?
Can lead to the development of rare cancers, seizures, and dementia. May be fatal.
What are the symptoms?
A person can be infected with HIV without having AIDS. It can take as long as 10 years for HIV infection to cause AIDS; this time span is growing due to available drug treatments.
What is the treatment?
There is no cure for either HIV or AIDS. Certain medications can be taken to lengthen the time between HIV infection and the development of AIDS. These must be taken according to a strict schedule, are very expensive, and can cause many unpleasant side effects.