What: HIV is a virus that invades the immune system and destroys it over time; this reduces a person’s ability to fight off infections and cancer. People with HIV eventually develop AIDS, which is often eventually fatal.
When: You can get HIV from contact with infected blood or body fluids during vaginal or oral sex. The risk is greatly increased if you have anal sex, multiple partners or shoot drugs. Infected pregnant women can pass it on their babies.
Why get checked? At first, you may just have short-lived flu-like symptoms (tiredness, fever, aches). You may have no other symptoms for years. Even with no symptoms, you can still pass on the disease during sex. Most people with HIV can prolong their lives by carefully taking medication every day for the rest of their life. If you go on to get AIDS, you may get multiple infections that other people fight off easily.
How to avoid getting infected? Don’t’ shoot drugs. Using condoms exactly as directed every time you have sex can reduce your risk of getting HIV by about 85%. Looking for a better percentage? Here’s the scoop…if you are single, abstain from all sexual activity. If you are married, be faithful. If you haven’t had sex (oral, vaginal or anal) and don’t shoot drugs, your chances of getting HIV and AIDS are small. If you have had sex, do yourself a favor and get checked out!
Here at Care Net Frederick we offer FREE and confidential STD/STI testing!
Adapted from The Medical Institute © (2012) ISBN 1-933902-33-7
To see The Medical Institute references, view or purchase this pamphlet, please visit www.medinstitute.org.