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What are HIV and AIDS?

HIV is a virus that kills your body’s cells that help fight off infection and disease. AIDS is a disease you get when HIV destroys your body’s immune system. Anyone can get HIV. HIV doesn’t care what race you are or if you’re a man or a woman, young or old.

What do I need to know about HIV?

You can get HIV by:

bullet Having sex with someone who has HIV.
bullet Sharing needles to inject drugs or share drug equipment used to prepare drugs for injection with someone who has HIV.

You cannot get HIV:

bullet By working with or being around someone who has HIV.
bullet From sweat, spit, tears, clothes, drinking fountains, phones, toilet seats, or through everyday things like sharing a meal.
bullet From insect bites or stings.
bullet From donating blood.
bullet From a closed-mouth kiss (but there is a very small chance of getting it from open-mouthed or "French" kissing with an infected person because of possible blood contact).

How can I protect myself?

bullet Have sex with only one person who is only having sex with you. This lowers your chances of getting HIV. But you still need to use condoms to be safe.
bullet Don’t share needles and syringes used to inject drugs, steroids, vitamins, or for tattooing or body piercing. Also, don’t share equipment ("works") used to prepare drugs to be injected. Many people have been infected with HIV, hepatitis, and other germs this way. Germs from an infected person can stay in a needle and then be injected directly into the next person who uses the needle.
bullet Condoms lubricated with spermicides are no more effective than other lubricated condoms in protecting against the transmission of HIV and other STDs.In order to achieve the protective effect of condoms, they must be used correctly and consistently. Incorrect use can lead to condom slippage or breakage, thus diminishing their protective effect. Inconsistent use, e.g., failure to use condoms with every act of intercourse, can lead to STD transmission because transmission can occur with a single act of intercourse.
bullet Hugging, kissing and touching are safe.
bullet Abstinence (not having sex) is the safest way to prevent HIV.

HIV and Pregnancy

If there is a chance you or your partner has HIV, talk to a counselor at Reproductive Health Services or your doctor. Get tested before you get pregnant. If you are pregnant, and have the virus, you can give HIV to your baby. And you will be more likely to get sick with HIV or AIDS yourself. You and your baby will need special care. With correct treatment, you can reduce your chances of infecting your infant.

Where Can You Get Help?

If you think you might have HIV, get a blood test. The test is safe and private. Talk to your counselor at Reproductive Health Services to find out about the test. To learn more about HIV, call the Clinic Operations Services at 1-800-722-4777 or 1-800-255-6560 or the National HIV Hotline at 1-800-342-2437.

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