All About HIV/AIDS Prevention

Triad Health Project provides HIV & AIDS prevention education programs, presentations, and literature to the community.

How are HIV and AIDS different?

What Is HIV?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. It breaks down your body's immune system. Your immune system protects you against diseases. HIV is a virus that lives in blood, semen, breast milk and vaginal fluids.

What Is AIDS?

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the stage where HIV has severely damaged the immune system. Once you are infected, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is in the body for life. Even though you may look and feel fine, once you are infected with HIV, you can infect other people

How do you get HIV?

  • By having unprotected anal, oral, and/or vaginal intercourse with an HIV+ individual
  • By sharing needles, syringes, cookers or cotton (works) to shoot drugs.
  • By being born to an HIV infected mother.
  • You can have HIV and not have AIDS. You may feel well and look healthy for years.

What are the signs of HIV?

Quite often, people with HIV have no signs at all. Sometimes HIV shows signs a lot like the flu or the signs may be similar and mistaken for other diseases. The difference with HIV is, the signs don't go away, or keep coming back. If you have any of these signs, and they last several weeks or more, see your doctor.

  • Sudden, unexplained weight loss
  • feeling very tired all the time/constant fatigue
  • fever or night sweats
  • diarrhea
  • dry coughing not from a cold or smoking
  • swollen glands in the neck, armpit or groin
  • pink, blue or purple spots on the skin or in the mouth. (They look like bruises, but don't go away.)

Is there a test for HIV?

There is a blood test for the antibodies that your body makes to fight HIV infection. It will tell you if you've been infected by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

How can I avoid getting HIV?

The surest way is to abstain from unprotected sex and not share IV drug needles. If you choose to have sex or inject drugs, there are ways to reduce the chances of exposure to HIV.

You cannot get HIV from casual encounters, such as:

  • Shaking hands
  • hugging
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • using bathtubs
  • toilet seats
  • swimming pools
  • touching doorknobs
  • telephones
  • from the air
  • sharing drinks, food, glasses, dishes, forks or spoons

NEW: The Authoritative Guide to Safer Sex