Overflow Health Alliance is proud to host our 2nd Annual Testing Day Celebration. Join us Feb 7th from 11am-2pm to show your support through community engagement and self-awareness. Tickets are Limited. So don't wait!!
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and can lead to AIDS, a clinical diagnosis that indicates an advanced stage of HIV. HIV may not show symptoms initially. Testing is recommended as a part of routine healthcare.
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but antiretroviral (ARV) prescription medications allow people with HIV to live normal, healthy lifespans. Consistent ARV use also prevents transmission to others. Left untreated, HIV can lead to death.
How do you get HIV?
The most common way to get HIV is through unprotected anal or vaginal sex with someone who is unaware they have HIV or who does not have their HIV controlled with antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.
Sharing needles, syringes or other injection-drug equipment with someone with HIV can also result in infection.
HIV can be passed during pregnancy, birth or through breastfeeding. Ongoing ARV treatment to achieve and maintain viral suppression both during pregnancy and postpartum substantially reduces the risk of perinatal transmission to less than 1%, but not zero. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant people living with HIV who have questions about breastfeeding or who want to breastfeed should receive patient-centered, evidence-based counseling on their infant feeding options.
HIV is not spread through casual contact, such as hugging or shaking hands. It also cannot be transmitted through the air or by sharing dishes, food or toilet seats.
You cannot get HIV through closed-mouth kissing or saliva. There is little to no risk of getting HIV through oral sex.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
As with many other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV often shows NO symptoms initially. The only way to know if you have HIV is to be tested.
However, some people do get sick during the first weeks after infection. This illness can be confused with the flu. Symptoms may include fever, tiredness, swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, joint and muscle aches, diarrhea and a rash.
When HIV is undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause serious health issues, including death. There is no cure for HIV, but there are highly effective medications, called antiretrovirals (ARVs), that can reduce the amount of virus in the body to undetectable levels. People with HIV who take ARVs as prescribed, and get and keep an undetectable viral load, can live long, healthy lives. When HIV is undetectable, it also cannot be transmitted through sex.
Who and how often should you be tested?
Everyone should know their HIV status. The only way to do that is by getting tested.
Some people think they would know if they had HIV, but like other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV often shows no symptoms. An estimated 1 in 7 people living with HIV in the U.S. does not know it. Left untreated, HIV can cause serious harm to someone’s health.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 receive an HIV test at least once. Men who have sex with men are advised to get an HIV test as often as every three to six months.
Additionally, the CDC recommends that anyone who is at ongoing risk of HIV should be tested at least once a year. This includes people who have:
Had sex with someone who has HIV
Had a new sex partner since their last HIV test
Shared drug-injection equipment
Engaged in sex work
Had another STD
Had hepatitis B or C or tuberculosis (TB)
Had sex with someone who falls into any of the above categories
Had sex with anyone whose sexual history they don’t know
Anyone who is pregnant or planning to get pregnant should get tested as early in the process as possible. Treatment can prevent women with HIV from passing the virus to the baby.