The Most Frequently Asked HIV/AIDS Questions

    9. What happens if I test positive? If you test positive for HIV, the sooner you take steps to protect your health, the better. Early medical treatment and a healthy lifestyle can help you stay well. Prompt medical care may delay the onset of AIDS and prevent some life-threatening conditions. There is much you can do to stay healthy. Learn all that you can about maintaining good health.

    10. Is it possible to be infected with HIV from taking the HIV test itself? Some claim that the HIV test itself can give you the virus. But unless a clinic reuses a needle that was previously used on someone with HIV (a highly unlikely scenario that has never been reported), there is no way that testing for HIV could cause the infection.

    11. How effective are latex condoms in HIV prevention? Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing heterosexual sexual transmission of HIV. It should be noted that condom use cannot provide absolute protection against HIV. The surest way to avoid transmission of HIV is to abstain from sexual intercourse or to be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and you know is uninfected.

    Studies have shown that latex condoms are very effective, though not perfect, in preventing HIV transmission when used correctly and consistently. If either partner is allergic to latex, plastic (polyurethane) condoms for either the male or female can be used.

    11. Can you get HIV from oral sex? Yes, it is possible for either partner to become infected with HIV through performing or receiving oral sex. While no one knows exactly what the degree of risk is, evidence suggests that the risk is less than that of unprotected anal or vaginal sex.

    If your partner is female, use a latex barrier (such as a natural rubber latex sheet, a dental dam, or a cut-open condom that makes a square) between your mouth and the vagina. A latex barrier such as a dental dam reduces the risk of blood or vaginal fluids entering your mouth. Plastic food wrap also can be used as a barrier.

    12. Can you get HIV from anal sex? Yes. In fact, unprotected (without a condom) anal sex is considered to be very risky behavior. It is possible for either sex partner to become infected with HIV during anal sex.

    Not having sex is the most effective way to avoid HIV. If people choose to have anal sex, they should use a latex condom. Most of the time, condoms work well. However, condoms are more likely to break during anal sex than during vaginal sex. Thus, even with a condom, anal sex can be risky. A person should use generous amounts of water-based lubricant in addition to the condom to reduce the chances of the condom breaking.

    13. If you test positive for HIV, will you inevitably die from AIDS? In the early years of HIV/AIDS, an HIV diagnosis often meant the infected person would develop AIDS and die from complications of the disease within a matter of years, but this is no longer true. Medications, combined with lifestyle changes and complementary therapies that support the body’s ability to keep the virus in check, can keep an HIV-infected person from developing AIDS or the fatal complications associated with it for many years.

    14. Can catch HIV from a toilet seat? The HIV virus cannot be transmitted by casual contact, from a toilet seat, a doorknob, a fork, or a handshake, for that matter. The only known HIV transmission methods include unprotected sex, intravenous drug use, exposure to blood or bodily fluids from an infected person, from mother to child in pregnancy, and through blood transfusions if the blood came from an HIV infected person. (Transmission of the virus did happen through blood transfusions or blood products in the 1980s before HIV testing became routine for all donated blood, but is highly unlikely to happen in a modern medical facility.)

    15. Is there is a cure for HIV? There are medications available to suppress the virus in infected individuals and to lower their viral load. Such treatments can prolong or prevent the development of AIDS for years or even a lifetime. However, researchers have not found a cure for HIV that would eliminate the virus from an infected person’s body entirely.

    16. Can mosquitoes spread HIV? While mosquitoes can spread a number of illnesses such as West Nile Virus or malaria, there are no known cases of HIV transmission through mosquito bites. If mosquitoes could transmit the HIV virus, there would be many more cases among young children, adolescents and other people who would otherwise be at low risk for HIV exposure.

    17. If you’re taking medication for HIV, will it prevent the HIV virus from being spead? Even while taking medication, a person with HIV can still infect others if they have unprotected sex, share needles, or expose others to their blood or other bodily fluids.

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