Facts to Know on World AIDS Day

Athens, Ga.– Today is World AIDS Day. It is a day to raise awareness and support for those infected by HIV and AIDS. On this day every year, people are asked to wear red to show their support for those effected by these viruses. 

Beginning in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

What is HIV and AIDS?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus): is a virus which attacks the immune system. HIV stays in the body for life, but with the right medication and early detection, you can keep the virus under control. Without medication, you can develop AIDS.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome): is the most advanced stage of an HIV infection. It occurs when the immune system can no longer fight infections. If you have AIDS, then you have both HIV and at least one type of the ‘AIDS-defining’ diseases, which include tuberculosis, pneumonia and some types of cancer.

AIDS is life-threatening, so early testing of HIV is critical for those who could be infected by the virus in order to get the proper treatment needed.

What to know about HIV:

  1. It is passed on through infected semen, vaginal fluids, rectal secretions, blood or breast milk.
  2. You CAN get it from: 
    1. Vaginal or anal sex without a condom if your partner has an unknown HIV status, a detectable viral load and you aren’t taking PrEP—high risk
    2. Sharing injecting drug equipment—high risk
    3. Oral sex—low risk
  3. You CANNOT get it form:
    1. Touching, hugging, shaking hands or sharing utensils
    2. Kissing, spitting or sharing saliva
    3. Urine or feces
    4. Biting or scratching
    5. Insect bites
    6. Contact with a discarded needle

To find an HIV testing place near you, click here.

By: Kendall Meissner

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