Welcome to the Patient Education Library of Texas Medical Institute
HIV and AIDS
For the vast majority of people HIV results in AIDS if left untreated. AIDS is the final stage of HIV and results in death. There is no cure for HIV or AIDS. There are medications that can help people live longer and with a better quality of life than ever before. You can help stop the spread of HIV by getting tested and preventing the spread of HIV to others or taking precautions to prevent getting infected with HIV.
You should seek immediate medical treatment if you are a healthcare worker and sustain an accidental needle stick. It appears that an immediate course of anti-viral drugs, termed post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), may reduce the chance of infection.
If you test positive for HIV, you will receive testing to measure the exact amount of virus in your blood. This is helpful for treatment planning and for predicting the probable progression of your disease. It is helpful to meet with counselors that can offer emotional support, education, and helpful resources. It is very important to tell your partner or partners if you test positive for HIV so that they may receive testing and treatment as well.
As your condition progresses, infections and cancers will be treated as they occur. Rehabilitation therapies may help you improve or learn to compensate for physical or cognitive difficulties. You may need help from other people at times. Hospice programs at home or in a facility offer relief and support for individuals and their loved ones.
The experience of being diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, illness, and treatments can be an emotional experience for people with HIV or AIDS and their loved ones. It is important to receive support from positive sources that you trust and are comfortable with. Some people find support in their partners, family, friends, co-workers, and faith. HIV/AIDS support groups and organizations are a good source for information, education, and possible funding assistance. Support groups are a good place to meet other people in similar situations and receive support from people that understand what you are experiencing.
Am I at Risk
HIV is a problem in the United States and worldwide. It may occur in men, women, and children regardless of their socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation, religion, or race. HIV infections occur if HIV infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions enter your body. There is a greater risk of this occurring during specific situations including:
_____ You have an increased risk of contracting HIV if you have unprotected sex with multiple partners. Unprotected sex means that you did not use a condom correctly and consistently.
_____ Your risk is increased if you had unprotected sex with a person that has HIV. Some people may not know that they have HIV because they may not have symptoms and may not have been tested, but they may spread the virus to others.
_____ Your risk is increased if you do not know the HIV status of your partner. Couples considering sexual relations should be tested for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases before beginning sexual activity.
_____ If you have a sexually transmitted disease, such as syphilis, herpes, Chlamydia, genital warts, or gonorrhea, you have an increased risk of contracting HIV.
_____ Participating in high-risk sexual activity, such as anal sex, increases the risk for HIV.
_____ If you share needles with other people during IV drug use, you have an increased risk for HIV.
_____ People that received blood products before 1985 have a risk of HIV. After 1985, donated blood products in the United States are screened for HIV.
_____ Healthcare workers that routinely handle used needles have a risk of contaminating themselves during an accidental needle stick on the job, but this is a rare occurrence.
_____ Newborns of mothers with HIV are at high risk. A pregnant mother with HIV may transmit the virus to her developing baby during pregnancy. A mother with HIV may transmit HIV to her baby through breast milk during breastfeeding. Mothers with HIV may receive treatment during pregnancy to reduce the risk of spreading HIV to their developing babies.
_____ You are at risk for HIV if you have been raped. People that have been raped should be offered a course of anti-viral drugs and receive testing for HIV.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.