Frequently Asked Questions
What are HIV and AIDS?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. AIDS is a disease of the immune system for which there is treatment, but no cure, at the present time. The virus (HIV) and the disease it causes (AIDS) are often linked and referred to as "HIV/AIDS."
How can HIV be transmitted?
HIV can be transferred between people if an infected person's blood or other bodily fluid comes in contact with the blood, broken skin, or mucous membranes of an uninfected person. Additionally, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding.
Can HIV be transmitted by saliva?
No, HIV cannot be transmitted by saliva. Contact with saliva alone has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV, and there is no documented case of transmission from an HIV-infected person spitting on another person.
Do all people with HIV have AIDS?
Being diagnosed with HIV does NOT mean a person will also be diagnosed with AIDS. Healthcare professionals diagnose AIDS only when people with HIV disease begin to get severe opportunistic infections (OI), or their T-cell counts fall and drop below a specific level.
Can I get AIDS from sharing a cup or shaking hands with someone who has HIV or AIDS?
HIV is found only in body fluids, so you CANNOT get HIV by shaking someone’s hand or giving them a hug (or by using the same toilet or towel). While HIV is found in saliva, sharing cups or utensils has never been shown to transmit HIV.
Can HIV be transmitted through an insect bite?
No, Insects can NOT transmit HIV. Research has shown that HIV does not replicate or survive well in insects. Blood-eating insects digest their food and do not inject blood from the last person they bite into the next person.
Can I get HIV from kissing?
No. A person cannot get HIV from casually kissing someone who has HIV. Skin is a good obstacle against HIV. It’s not recommended to be in long, open mouth kissing (“French Kissing”) with someone who carries HIV and one of you has an open wound in or around the mouth area.
Does abstinence include anal sex?
Abstinence means not having sexual intercourse where there is a risk of exchanging fluids (semen, vaginal fluids, rectal mucous). This includes anal, oral, and vaginal sex.
How effective are latex condoms in preventing HIV?
Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing HIV. Research on the effectiveness of latex condoms in preventing HIV transmission is both comprehensive and conclusive.
I had sex with someone I think could be at risk for HIV, and the condom broke? What should I do?
If it’s been less than 72 hours since the condom broke, you may be able to take medication that could keep you from getting infected with HIV, even if your partner is HIV-positive. Call your doctor or your local health department immediately and ask about post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP.
I am diagnosed with HIV; can a healthcare provider tell who gave me the infection?
No. HIV diagnostic tests cannot determine who passed the infection to the negative partner.
Can a woman give HIV to a man during vaginal intercourse?
Yes. If the woman is infected, HIV is present in vaginal and cervical secretions (the wetness in a woman’s vagina) and can enter the penis through the urethra (the hole at the tip) or through cuts or abrasions on the skin of the penis.
Where can I get tested for HIV infection?
Many places provide testing for HIV infection. It is important to seek testing at a location that also provides counseling about HIV and AIDS. Common locations include local health departments, private physicians, hospitals, and test sites specifically set up for HIV testing.
How long after possible exposure should I be tested for HIV?
The time it takes for a person who has been infected with HIV to seroconvert (test positive) for HIV antibodies is commonly called the “Window Period.” Infected individuals develop antibodies within 12 weeks (3-months).
Aren’t all STDs curable with a shot or a pill?
No. While most bacterial infections are curable with an antibiotic injection or pill, some viral infections (including herpes and HPV) may or may not resolve on their own. HIV is a viral STD that will not go away once you have it. There are currently no cures for these viruses—only treatments.
If I test HIV positive; does that mean I will die?
Testing positive for HIV means that you now have the virus that can cause AIDS. It does not mean that you have AIDS, nor does it mean that you will die.
If I test HIV negative does that mean that my partner is HIV negative also?
HIV test will only test for your current HIV status. A negative test does not necessarily mean your partner is also HIV negative. Also, it does not mean HIV will be transmitted every time there is an exposure.
How safe is oral sex?
Though, extremely low chance, it is possible to transmit HIV through oral sex. The only way to prevent getting the virus is abstinence. However, the chances of getting HIV from giving oral sex to a woman are lower than giving oral sex to a man.
Are lesbians or other women who have sex with women at risk for HIV?
It is possible for lesbians/bisexual women to get HIV. However, the chances are very low.
What is PrEP?
“PrEP” stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. The word “prophylaxis” means “to prevent or control the spread of an infection or disease.” PrEP is a way for people who don’t have HIV to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. The pill contains two medicines that are also used to treat HIV. If you take PrEP and are exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from taking hold in your body. Along with other prevention methods like condoms, PrEP can offer good protection against HIV if taken every day. However, PrEP does NOT protect against any STD’s.
Can anyone use PrEP?
PrEP is not for everyone. CDC recommends PrEP be considered for people who are HIV-negative and at substantial risk for HIV infection.
HIV是人類免疫缺乏病毒 (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) 的縮寫，一般簡稱為愛滋病毒。AIDS是後天免疫缺乏症候群 (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) 的縮寫，一般直接音譯為愛滋病。愛滋病是免疫系統的疾病，目前只能治療，無法治癒。病毒 (HIV) 和其造成的疾病 (AIDS) 時常會被連在一起，稱為「HIV/AIDS」。
PrEP是暴露前預防投藥 (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) 的縮寫。未感染愛滋病毒的人可以每天吃一顆藥以預防感染。藥裡面有兩種用來治療愛滋的成分，所以吃藥時如果接觸到愛滋病毒，這兩種成分可以避免病毒佔據身體。每天服藥，結合其他防治方法（如使用保險套）一同使用，PrEP的保護效果很好。但是PrEP無法預防其他性病。