HIV

Background

HIV is a virus that weakens your body’s immune system. It destroys white blood cells that fight disease and infection. At this time there is no cure for HIV, but it can be prevented and controlled with proper medical care.

How is HIV Prevented

HIV can be prevented by:

  • Not having oral, vaginal, or anal sex (abstinence)
  • Limiting your number of sexual partners
  • Never sharing needles or personal care items
  • Using condoms correctly and consistently
  • Taking medication

If you are at high risk for HIV, Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) can be prescribed. It’s important to take PrEP daily to prevent the spread of HIV. If you miss a dose, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for specific instructions. PrEP doesn’t prevent other sexually transmitted infections.

If you have HIV, it’s important to take your medication as directed by your doctor. This can help you maintain low amounts of HIV in your blood (an undetectable viral load). New scientific research shows that if you have an undetectable viral load, you can’t spread the virus to others. This is known as Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U).

How is HIV Spread?

You can get HIV when blood or certain bodily fluids from someone who has HIV enters your body. This can happen if:

  • You have unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who has HIV
  • Your mom had HIV when she gave birth to you
  • You share any of the following with someone who has HIV:
    • Needles
    • Syringes
    • Razors
    • Toothbrushes

HIV isn’t spread through casual contact such as hugging or shaking hands. It only spreads through certain bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, breast milk, pre-seminal fluids, vaginal fluids, or rectal fluids.

Treatment

There is no cure for HIV. But there are medications available to help control the virus and stop it from multiplying. Most HIV medications are taken by mouth. It’s important to take these medications daily to help you live a longer, healthier life. If you miss a dose, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for specific instructions.

Resources