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Do HIV carrirers test negative (HIV CARRIERS) (HIV BASICS)
Jun 9, 2008

DO HIV carriers test negative? (I did an HIV 1&2 test which came back negative. But someone told me that I could still be a carrier. The test was done six (6) months after my last possible exposure.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

There is no such thing as an "HIV carrier." See below.

Dr. Bob

is there such thing as HIV- carriers? Mar 13, 2007

Hello Doc,

I have tested negative for HIV out to six months and believe I am negative per the recommendations of this site and my own doctor. However, yesterday I had a discussion with some co-workers that really freaked me out. I consider myself pretty educated on HIV but they sounded so convincing in their argument that I had to double check with you.

They stated that some people can test negative for HIV but have it dormant in their system and become carriers of the decease. Is this accurate? From everything that I have read you have to be HIV positive to transmit and have not read about dormant stages beyond 3-6 months. Please help me out doc, this sent my fears soaring again. I thought I had put all this HIV stuff behind me but they just pulled me back in.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

No, there is no such thin as a dormant HIV carrier. Likewise, there is no such thing as a vampire, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny or a compassionate conservative, no matter what your whacko coworker may spout off about or what you may hear on Fox News!

Dr. Bob

HIV Tests Mar 18, 2007

I heard recently that the OraSure and OraQuick HIV tests can also tell what other STI's someone may have had in the past or currently is infected with. I was told the test(s) could be a "Parent's Dream Come True" ie., as a way of checking on their child's sexual activity. Is this true? Thanks so much for your response.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

And just where did you learn this little known factoid? The "Journal of Irreproducible Results?" No, sweetie, despite what you heard, OraSure and OraQuick HIV tests test only for HIV. That's why we call them HIV tests! Clever, eh? If indeed there was a way for parents to check up on their child's sexual activity, it most likely would not be "A Parent's Dream Come True," but rather "A Parent's Worst Nightmare." Especially for all those parents who subjected their kids to "abstinence-only sex education" programs and coerced their horny kids into signing "virginity pledges!"

Dr. Bob

HIV Carrier Jul 5, 2004

my boyfriend says he is an HIV carrier and that he can not infect anyone. He has children that do not carry the HIV virus and the mother of his children also does not carry the HIV virus. Should i be worried that we have had unprotected sex when he says he can not infect anyone.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

There is no such thing as an "HIV carrier" that cannot transmit the virus to another person. The mother of your boyfriend's children as well as his children are very lucky. Thankfully, not every HIV exposure leads to HIV transmission, but unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person is exactly like playing sexual Russian roulette. Are you willing to take that risk? I certainly hope not! I'm not sure if your boyfriend is just woefully misinformed, delusional, or if he is just an outright cad. In any case, please protect yourself and insist on latex condoms each and every time you have sex. You (and he) might find it enlightening for you to go with your boyfriend to his next visit to his HIV specialist. Mention your boyfriend's claim that he is only an "HIV carrier" and therefore doesn't believe he can infect anyone. I can assure you the response you'll get will confirm what I've said.

By the way, if you've had unprotected sex with him already, you'll need to be HIV tested at least three months after the last contact, and if that is negative, than again at six months. You should also suggest your boyfriend sign on to this or any other legitimate HIV information website. He's got a lot to learn!

Please stay well.

Dr. Bob

Waiting for Miracle Jul 10, 2007

Dear Dr.

Thank you very much for the reply. The guy I had unprotected sex is my ex-boyfriend. He told me to have a HIV test when I told him that I was going to change a doctor in April. As I listed in first question, I have so many problems. He told me to have a HIV test and he was suffered the same. He was tested HIV positive in May 2006 in NY. I had unprotected sex with him in Oct 2005. He didn't think I was infected with it as I told him that I donated blood after window period. However when I told him that I suffered from some disease. He confessed to me he tested hiv positive.I was shocked. The Home access test is for using in US only. We tried to get one and was told of that. I have to tell media, I hope they can help to trace the person who has transfusion with my blood so that we can talk to hygiene department together. However the correspondent was rejected by blood station. That is why people cannot see the report of donating blood. As the country did not update the virus bank in time, especially some new rare strain. The possibility of infecting the virus is slim. And it is a developing country, doesnot have much money in this field. I need your help. Please advise what kind of test we should take when anti-body test failed. If possible, pls tell me the new subtypes of HIV after 1996. You must have known the first case of infected with HIV subtype O in USA. The lady went to test many times but the result were all negative until the lab using other test method 2 years later and she was very low CD4 count. People can find the story in CDC website. Dear Bob, we desperately need your help. If possible, pls help me to get the sequence of the 3-DCR HIV. Our local CDC are trying to help us out of this too. They know we are suffered a lot from the disease but they cannot be more of help. They are going to do a PCR test for us. The sequence of virus is important for the design of primer. The databank of virus is not a complete one. Although My CD4 is not low, but the vrial load cannot be detected, it could be very high. You may have seen the report on 3-DCR. It is the most virulent virus and it has two ways to attack people¡s immune system.That is why we have so much symptoms in latent period. And if the virus load can be detected, we are probably aids patient now. It is easy for me to prove it. It is easy to get another one infected with it but it really hard to do so. I am kind person and I and my family member are suffering a lot from it. I donot want such tragedy happen to other family. Many friends were trying to help me. They help to make phone call to our CDC. I went to our nation CDC and asked them to send my blood to USA. Because I called CDC of USA, they told me if our government asks for help from USA government, they will help us. However our government refused to do so. Infected with HIV is a tragedy. Infected with it and can¡t be treated¡.. So many rashes came out from my son¡s leg, he coughed days and night, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, headache¡ He cried while he asked me: Mom, why I am always ill this two months. I was crying, I want to hold him, but I dare not. There are so many wounds on our bodies, got rankled, hard to heal. I took pic at every stages of the rashes. I sent them to ask for help. Medicine doesnot work on them. Many new big rashes keep coming out of his body. I took him to see a dentist yesterday he told me he had a toothache . Feeling of nausea this morning. About 10 days ago, he told me: mom I sometimes found you have 2 heads, and two air conditioners. That is change of vision. He told me it was painful on his genital and anal area about five days ago. It lasted a few minutes then disappeared. I know what kind of feeling it is. I experienced that months ago. I cannot list out all the symptoms here. And I know if the virus cannot be killed by the right drugs, more symptoms are waiting for us ahead. I know I am on the way to another world with my child. But I can¡t give up as long as there is a slim chance for us. Dear Dr. Please please try if you have any ideas to help us. Thank you,

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

I agree you desperately need help, but not the kind I can provide. You need a psychiatrist, not more HIV tests. Once again my assessment and advice remain unchanged. (See below.)

Dr. Bob

New rare HIV strain test Jul 9, 2007

Dear Dr.

Thank you for answering my question.I totally agree with your opinion that any HIV can be detected by anti-body screening test.However it just like you have turkey on thanksgiving day and I've never seen what a turkey looks like in real life. What I mean is we are in different country under different conditions. The best test kit here is HIV uni-form II plus O. It is not approved to be used in the US. The sensitivities and specificities of different test kits are different. I am sure I will be tested HIV positive if I have chance to have a HIV test in the US or by the test kit approved by FDA. If you can bring me a test kit from US I'd like to pay all the fees. I am serious. However I know it is for using in US only. What I told in previous question are all the truth.I'd like to tell you more about it in email. My CD4 cell decreased. It was 942/ml last month and now it is 833/ml. Though it is still far from an opportunity infection. But it is going down. Pls tell me if any other test I can try besides anti-body screening test. Thank you very much.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

My assessment and advice remain unchanged.(See below)

Why are you having CD4 tests run when you have absolutely no need for those tests? As for your two values, 942 and 833, these are, not unexpectedly, both completely normal! There is considerable day to day and even diurnal variation (changes within a 24-hour period) in CD4 cell counts. They bounce up and down within the normal range continually. Once again you are misinterpreting laboratory data.

As for my brining an FDA-approved test to wherever you are, thanks for the offer, but no thanks! If you want an FDA-approved test, order a Home Access Express Test. They are available online. Your result will undoubtedly be negative. However, I have no doubt that despite getting a negative FDA-approved test, you still won't believe the result. Hence, my recommendation that you seek psychiatric help remains unchanged.

Dr. Bob

New rare HIV strain Jul 7, 2007

Dear Dr. I am from China. I had unsafe sex with a Chinese guy (a bisextual who is working in NY) in Oct 2005. Acute HIV symptoms (fever,diarrhea,sore throat)appeared 3 days later. I have a test after the window period. It is negative. However I fell ill 3 months later. Now,more and more symptoms developed on me and other family members. I went to test for 6 times. all were negative. From the progression of the disease I think it could be the new rare strain called HIV 3-DCR which were found in NYC in 2005. And the test kit is HIV uni-form II plus O. I think new rare strain cannot be detected by the test kit. The symptoms are listed below 1.weakness in arms, legs 2. inability to stand or walk (four months later) 3.numbness, tingling, pain 4. thick fluid from mouth 5.Shortness of breath 6.diarrhea 7.bleeding, such as from the nose or gums, blood in the urine or stool, 8. easy bruising 9.paralysis 10.unexplained weight loss (5kg loss in a month) 11.Fatigue 12.muscle ache(from mid 2006 to present) 13.Unusual sores on the skin, genital anal areas , feet and fingers(from mid 2006 to present) 14.Severe numbness or pain in the hands and feet (starts from mid 2006) 15.inability to do mental tasks that has done in the past (start from early 2007) 16.rashes that appear on legs and arms( start from 2007/05/30) 17.abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting (from mid 2006 to present) 18.slow thinking 19.hard to concentrate It is getting severe by the day. My son's symptoms are listed as below: 1.Fever (39.3 for 3 days) 2.Diarrhea(four times a day) 3.night sweet 4.cough 5.easily to catch a cold 6.numbness of legs and feet 7.abdominal cramps (lasts more than a month) 8.nausea and vomiting 9.headache and hard to fall asleep (start from May 26, last 1-2 days,then disappear) 10.rashes came out from legs and back 11.changes of vision 12.repeated yeast infection of the mouth 13.fatigue I told media about my infection of new rare strain. I was fired during the sick leave. Now I am in very bad situation. One hand I was told that I was not infected with HIV. Another hand CDC government told my company that I am hiv carrier. Please help me. Is there any other ways to detect the virus If I were infected with this rare strain HIV 3-DCR. Thank you very much.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

The "CDC government told my company that I am HIV carrier"???? What???? You'll have to give me a bit more information about that, because, based on your repeated (and excessive) HIV tests, you are conclusively and definitively HIV negative and I cannot imagine the CDC would actually say such a thing. Please note even if you had three-drug-class resistant HIV (HIV 3-DCR), you would still test HIV positive on HIV antibody screening tests! Whatever is causing your symptoms, one thing is certain: it's not HIV! No way, no how. If a physical cause cannot be determined for your symptoms, you should consider psychosomatic illness.

Telling the media about a nonexistent infection really wasn't a very bright idea. I urge you to stop chasing a disease you could not possibly have and get the psychological/psychiatric help you obviously need to confront your totally unwarranted and completely irrational fears.

Dr. Bob

Can a child contact HIV from a carrier who's "dads friend"? (CASUAL CONTACT, HIV BASICS) Dec 12, 2007

My daughters (5) and her father, is in a relationship with a girl who is a HIV Carrier on medication. Can the virus be given to my child? I want to make sure to protect her from getting it.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

First of all, there is no such thing as an "HIV carrier." Someone is either HIV positive (infected) or HIV negative (not infected).

Next, HIV is not transmitted by casual conduct and you should have no fears about your daughter visiting Dad, even if he is involved in a magnetic coupling (one poz plus one neggie). See below. I'll reprint some basic information about HIV from the archives.

Dr. Bob

Facts for Life What You and the People You Care About Need to Know About HIV/AIDS

2006

Frequently Asked Questions What is HIV? What is AIDS? How quickly do people infected with HIV develop AIDS? How many people are affected by HIV/AIDS? How is HIV transmitted? How is HIV not transmitted? How can I reduce my risk of becoming infected with HIV through sexual contact? Are there other ways to avoid getting HIV through sex? Is there a link between HIV and other sexually transmitted infections? How can I avoid acquiring HIV from a contaminated syringe? Are some people at greater risk of HIV infection than others? Are women especially vulnerable to HIV? Are young people at significant risk of HIV infection? Are there treatments for HIV/AIDS? Is there a cure for AIDS? Is there a vaccine to prevent HIV infection? Can you tell whether someone has HIV or AIDS? How do I know if I'm infected? Should I get tested? How can I get tested? Where can I get more information about HIV and AIDS? How can I help fight HIV/AIDS?

What is HIV? HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that causes AIDS. A member of a group of viruses called retroviruses, HIV infects human cells and uses the energy and nutrients provided by those cells to grow and reproduce.

What is AIDS? AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is a disease in which the body's immune system breaks down and is unable to fight off infections, known as "opportunistic infections," and other illnesses that take advantage of a weakened immune system. When a person is infected with HIV, the virus enters the body and lives and multiplies primarily in the white blood cells. These are immune cells that normally protect us from disease. The hallmark of HIV infection is the progressive loss of a specific type of immune cell called T-helper, or CD4, cells. As the virus grows, it damages or kills these and other cells, weakening the immune system and leaving the person vulnerable to various opportunistic infections and other illnesses ranging from pneumonia to cancer. A person can receive a clinical diagnosis of AIDS, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if he or she has tested positive for HIV and meets one or both of theses conditions:

The presence of one or more AIDS-related infections or illnesses;

A CD4 count that has reached or fallen below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. Also called the T-cell count, the CD4 count ranges from 450 to 1200 in healthy individuals.

How quickly do people infected with HIV develop AIDS? In some people, the T-cell decline and opportunistic infections that signal AIDS develop soon after infection with HIV. But most people do not develop symptoms for 10 to 12 years, and a few remain symptom-free for much longer. As with most diseases, early medical care can help prolong a person's life.

How many people are affected by HIV/AIDS? The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that there are now 40 million people living with HIV or AIDS worldwide. Most of them do not know they carry HIV and may be spreading the virus to others. In the U.S., close to one million people have HIV infection or AIDS, and 40,000 Americans become newly infected with HIV each year. According to the CDC, it is estimated that a quarter of all people with HIV in the U.S. do not know they are carrying the virus. Since the beginning of the epidemic, AIDS has killed more than 30 million people worldwide, including more than 500,000 Americans. AIDS has replaced malaria and tuberculosis as the world's deadliest infectious disease among adults and is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. More than 14 million children have been orphaned by the epidemic.

How is HIV transmitted? A person who has HIV carries the virus in certain body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. The virus can be transmitted only if such HIV-infected fluids enter the bloodstream of another person. This kind of direct entry can occur (1) through the linings of the vagina, rectum, mouth, and the opening at the tip of the penis; (2) through intravenous injection with a syringe; or (3) through a break in the skin, such as a cut or sore. Usually, HIV is transmitted through:

Unprotected sexual intercourse (either vaginal or anal) with someone who has HIV. Women are at greater risk of HIV infection through vaginal sex than men, although the virus can also be transmitted from women to men. Anal sex (whether male-male or male-female) poses a high risk mainly to the receptive partner, because the lining of the anus and rectum is extremely thin and is filled with small blood vessels that can be easily injured during intercourse.

Unprotected oral sex with someone who has HIV. There are far fewer cases of HIV transmission attributed to oral sex than to either vaginal or anal intercourse, but oral-genital contact poses a clear risk of HIV infection, particularly when ejaculation occurs in the mouth. This risk goes up when either partner has cuts or sores, such as those caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), recent tooth-brushing, or canker sores, which can allow the virus to enter the bloodstream.

Sharing needles or syringes with someone who is HIV infected. Laboratory studies show that infectious HIV can survive in used syringes for a month or more. That's why people who inject drugs should never reuse or share syringes, water, or drug preparation equipment. This includes needles or syringes used to inject illegal drugs such as heroin, as well as steroids. Other types of needles, such as those used for body piercing and tattoos, can also carry HIV.

Infection during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding (mother-to-infant transmission). Any woman who is pregnant or considering becoming pregnant and thinks she may have been exposed to HIV -- even if the exposure occurred years ago -- should seek testing and counseling. In the U.S., mother-to-infant transmission has dropped to just a few cases each year because pregnant women are routinely tested for HIV. Those who test positive can get drugs to prevent HIV from being passed on to a fetus or infant, and they are counseled not to breast-feed.

How is HIV not transmitted? HIV is not an easy virus to pass from one person to another. It is not transmitted through food or air (for instance, by coughing or sneezing). There has never been a case where a person was infected by a household member, relative, coworker, or friend through casual or everyday contact such as sharing eating utensils or bathroom facilities, or through hugging or kissing. (Most scientists agree that while HIV transmission through deep or prolonged "French" kissing may be possible, it would be extremely unlikely.) Here in the U.S., screening the blood supply for HIV has virtually eliminated the risk of infection through blood transfusions (and you cannot get HIV from giving blood at a blood bank or other established blood collection center). Sweat, tears, vomit, feces, and urine do contain HIV, but have not been reported to transmit the disease (apart from two cases involving transmission from fecal matter via cut skin). Mosquitoes, fleas, and other insects do not transmit HIV.

How can I reduce my risk of becoming infected with HIV through sexual contact? If you are sexually active, protect yourself against HIV by practicing safer sex. Whenever you have sex, use a condom or "dental dam" (a square of latex recommended for use during oral-genital and oral-anal sex). When used properly and consistently, condoms are extremely effective. But remember:

Use only latex condoms (or dental dams). Lambskin products provide little protection against HIV.

Use only water-based lubricants. Latex condoms are virtually useless when combined with oil- or petroleum-based lubricants such as Vaseline® or hand lotion. (People with latex allergies can use polyethylene condoms with oil-based lubricants).

Use protection each and every time you have sex.

If necessary, consult a nurse, doctor, or health educator for guidance on the proper use of latex barriers.

Are there other ways to avoid getting HIV through sex? The male condom is the only widely available barrier against sexual transmission of HIV. Female condoms are fairly unpopular in the U.S. and still relatively expensive, but they are gaining acceptance in some developing countries. Efforts are also under way to develop topical creams or gels called "microbicides," which could be applied prior to sexual intercourse to kill HIV and prevent other STIs that facilitate HIV infection.

Is there a link between HIV and other sexually transmitted infections? Having a sexually transmitted infection can increase your risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV. This is true whether you have open sores or breaks in the skin (as with syphilis, herpes, and chancroid) or not (as with chlamydia and gonorrhea). Where there are breaks in the skin, HIV can enter and exit the bloodstream more easily. But even when there are no breaks in the skin, STIs can cause biological changes, such as swelling of tissue, that may make HIV transmission more likely. Studies show that HIV-positive individuals who are infected with another STI are three to five times more likely to contract or transmit the virus through sexual contact.

How can I avoid acquiring HIV from a contaminated syringe? If you are injecting drugs of any type, including steroids, do not share syringes or other injection equipment with anyone else. (Disinfecting previously used needles and syringes with bleach can reduce the risk of HIV transmission). If you are planning to have any part of your body pierced or to get a tattoo, be sure to see a qualified professional who uses sterile equipment. Detailed HIV prevention information for drug users who continue to inject is available from the CDC's National Prevention Information Network at 1-800-458-5321 or online at www.cdc.gov/idu.

Are some people at greater risk of HIV infection than others? HIV does not discriminate. It is not who you are, but what you do that determines whether you can become infected with HIV. In the U.S., roughly half of all new HIV infections are related directly or indirectly to injection drug use, i.e., using HIV-contaminated needles or having sexual contact with an HIV-infected drug user. With 40,000 Americans contracting HIV each year, there are clearly many people who are still engaging in high-risk behaviors, and infection rates remain alarmingly high among young people, women, African Americans, and Hispanics.

Are women especially vulnerable to HIV? In Western countries, women are four times more likely to contract HIV through vaginal sex with infected males than vice versa. This biological vulnerability is worsened by social and cultural factors that often undermine women's ability to avoid sex with partners who are HIV infected or to insist on condom use. In the U.S., the proportion of HIV/AIDS cases among women more than tripled from 7 percent in 1985 to 26 percent in 2002. African American and Hispanic women, who represent less than one-quarter of U.S. women, account for 80 percent of new HIV infections among American women each year.

Are young people at significant risk of HIV infection? At least half of the 40,000 Americans newly infected with HIV each year are under the age of 25. Roughly two young Americans become infected with HIV every hour of every day, and many of the people now living with HIV in the U.S. became infected when they were teenagers. Statistics show that by the 12th grade, about 60 percent of American youth are sexually active, and two-thirds of STIs affect people under age 25. Many young people also use drugs and alcohol, which can increase the likelihood that they will engage in high-risk sexual behavior.

Are there treatments for HIV/AIDS? For many years, there were no effective treatments for AIDS. Today, a number of drugs are available to treat HIV infection and AIDS. Some of these are designed to treat the opportunistic infections and illnesses that affect people with HIV/AIDS. In addition, several types of drugs seek to prevent HIV itself from reproducing and destroying the body's immune system:

Reverse transcriptase inhibitors attack an HIV enzyme called reverse transcriptase. They include abacavir, delavirdine, didanosine (ddl), efavirenz, emtricitabine (FTC), lamivudine (3TC), nevirapine, stavudine (d4T), tenofovir, zalcitabine (ddC), and zidovudine (AZT);

Protease inhibitors attack the HIV enzyme protease and include amprenavir, atazanavir, fosamprenavir, indinavir, lopinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, and saquinavir;

Fusion inhibitors stop virus from entering cells. To date, only one fusion inhibitor, enfuvirtide, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Many HIV patients take these drugs in combination -- a regimen known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). When taken as directed, anti-HIV treatment can reduce the amount of HIV in the bloodstream to very low levels and sometimes enables the body's immune cells to rebound to normal levels.

Researchers are continuing to develop new drugs that act at critical steps in the virus's life cycle. Efforts are under way to identify new targets for anti-HIV medications and to discover ways of restoring the ability of damaged immune systems to defend against HIV and the many illnesses that affect people with HIV. Ultimately, advances in rebuilding the immune systems of HIV patients will benefit people with a number of serious illnesses, including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and immune deficiencies associated with aging and premature birth.

Is there a cure for AIDS? There is still no cure for AIDS. And while new drugs are helping some people who have HIV live longer, healthier lives, there are many problems associated with them:

Anti-HIV drugs are highly toxic and can cause serious side effects, including heart damage, kidney failure, and osteoporosis. Many (perhaps even most) patients cannot tolerate long-term treatment with HAART.

HIV mutates quickly. Even among those who do well on HAART, roughly half of patients experience treatment failure within a year or two, often because the virus develops resistance to existing drugs. In fact, as many as 10 to 20 percent of newly infected Americans are acquiring viral strains that may already be resistant to current drugs.

Because treatment regimens are unpleasant and complex, many patients miss doses of their medication. Failure to take anti-HIV drugs on schedule and in the prescribed dosage encourages the development of new drug-resistant viral strains.

Even when patients respond well to treatment, HAART does not eradicate HIV. The virus continues to replicate at low levels and often remains hidden in "reservoirs" in the body, such as in the lymph nodes and brain. In the U.S., the number of AIDS-related deaths has decreased dramatically because of widely available, potent treatments. But more than 95 percent of all people with HIV/AIDS live in the developing world, and many have little or no access to treatment.

Is there a vaccine to prevent HIV infection? Despite continued intensive research, experts believe it will be at least a decade before we have a safe, effective, and affordable AIDS vaccine. And even after a vaccine is developed, it will take many years before the millions of people at risk of HIV infection worldwide can be immunized. Until then, other HIV prevention methods, such as practicing safer sex and using sterile syringes, will remain critical.

Can you tell whether someone has HIV or AIDS? You cannot tell by looking at someone whether he or she is infected with HIV or has AIDS. An infected person can appear completely healthy. But anyone infected with HIV can infect other people, even if they have no symptoms.

How do I know if I'm infected? Immediately after infection, some people may develop mild, temporary flu-like symptoms or persistently swollen glands. Even if you look and feel healthy, you may be infected. The only way to know your HIV status for sure is to be tested for HIV antibodies -- proteins the body produces in an effort to fight off infection. This usually requires a blood sample. If a person's blood has HIV antibodies, that means the person is infected.

Should I get tested? If you think you might have been exposed to HIV, you should get tested as soon as possible. Here's why:

Even in the early stages of infection, you can take concrete steps to protect your long-term health. Regular check-ups with a doctor who has experience with HIV/AIDS will enable you (and your family members or loved ones) to make the best decisions about whether and when to begin anti-HIV treatment, without waiting until you get sick. Taking an active approach to managing HIV may give you many more years of healthy life than you would otherwise have.

If you are HIV positive, you will be able to take the precautions necessary to protect others from becoming infected.

If you are HIV positive and pregnant, you can take medications and other precautions to significantly reduce the risk of infecting your infant, including not breast-feeding.

How can I get tested? Most people are tested by private physicians, at local health department facilities, or in hospitals. In addition, many states offer anonymous HIV testing. It is important to seek testing at a place that also provides counseling about HIV and AIDS. Counselors can answer questions about high-risk behavior and suggest ways you can protect yourself and others in the future. They can also help you understand the meaning of the test results and refer you to local AIDS-related resources. Though less readily available, there is also a viral load test that can reveal the presence of HIV in the blood within three to five days of initial exposure, as well as highly accurate saliva tests that are nearly equivalent to blood tests in determining HIV antibody status. In some clinics you can get a test called OraQuick® that gives a preliminary result in 20 minutes. You can also purchase a kit that allows you to collect your own blood sample, send it to a lab for testing, and receive the results anonymously. Only the Home Access® brand kit is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It can be found at most drugstores.

Keep in mind that while most blood tests are able to detect HIV infection within four weeks of initial exposure, it can sometimes take as long as three to six months for HIV antibodies to reach detectable levels. The CDC currently recommends testing six months after the last possible exposure to HIV.

The CDC's National AIDS Hotline can answer questions about HIV testing and refer you to testing sites in your area. Operators are available toll-free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at:

1-800-CDC-INFO

1-888-232-6348 (TTY/deaf access)

Where can I get more information about HIV and AIDS? There are many valuable sources of HIV/AIDS information, including the following:

amfAR's website at www.amfar.org

The amfAR Global Link at www.amfar.org/gl. This comprehensive source of HIV/AIDS treatment and clinical trials information is also available in print and on CD-ROM.

The CDC at www.cdc.gov/hiv/dhap.htm or the phone numbers above

Your state or local health department (see your local phone book)

Your local AIDS service organization (see your local phone book)

HIV InSite at hivinsite.ucsf.edu

AEGiS (AIDS Education Global Information System) at www.aegis.com

The Body: An AIDS and HIV Information Resource at www.thebody.com

The Kaiser Family Foundation's HIV/AIDS information section at www.kff.org/hivaids/index.cfm

How can I help fight HIV/AIDS? Everyone can play a role in confronting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Here are just a few suggestions for how you can make a difference:

Volunteer with your local AIDS service organization.

Talk with the young people you know about HIV/AIDS.

Sponsor an AIDS education event or fund raiser with your local school, community group, or religious organization.

Urge government officials to provide adequate funding for AIDS research, prevention education, medical care, and support services.

Speak out against AIDS-related discrimination.

Support continued research to develop better treatments and a safe and effective AIDS vaccine by making a donation to amfAR.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This article was provided by American Foundation for AIDS Research.

THANK YOU...you opended my mind (HIV TRANSMISSION, CASUAL CONTACT) Oct 23, 2007

I wrote to you about 3 to four days ago about my fear of contracting hiv by casual contact with my father. Well, I just want to thank you for making me see how wrong and uneducated I was by my behavior and HIV. I know now that with proper percautions I can stay negative but still give the love and support that my dad needs. Yes, if I ever were to contrat the virus I would not like to be descriminated against in any way and specially by my own family. Thank you, for making me understand that HIV is more that a virus...HIV is a virus that inhabits people as me and you. And, this people are heroes for not letting themselves get defested by this disease

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

I very much appreciate your writing back! I'm delighted you now have a better understanding of what HIV is, what it means to those of us who are infected and how HIV is and is not transmitted. Please "pay it forward" by helping us increase HIV/AIDS awareness in others who may also benefit from such enlightenments. Give your dad a hug from me. OK?

Dr. Bob

PLEASE RESPOND! I'M OUT OF MY MIND! Oct 18, 2007

My father is a very promiscous man that likes to go to many strip joints and sleep around. He tested positive about 6 months ago and since then I' have lived in total panic. I'm afraid to have casual contact with him. Like every time I give him a kiss on the cheek I freak out if he has a a cut or something. Like today I gave him a kiss on the cheek not notesing that he has a rasor cut on his cheek with dry blood. Or what I think it was dry and I have had chapt lips for a while. So my question is how risky is that? thank you for your time

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Let's start with a very basic fact: HIV/AIDS is not transmitted by casual contact. Period! This basic information has been readily available for over a quarter of a century! Your comment, "I'm afraid to have casual contact with him," is alarming and disappointing. It demonstrates once again a significant lack of general and very basic HIV/AIDS knowledge! (I could also point out you have a significant lack of general spelling knowledge as well: promiscuous, not "promiscous;" noticing, not "notesing;" razor, not "rasor;" chapped, not "chapt;" etc., but that's another issue entirely!) I'd suggest you spend less time worrying and being freaked out and more time perusing the wealth of information on HIV/AIDS available on this site, its archives and its related links. I'll reprint some basic information from the archives below.

Your father needs and deserves your love and support, rather than your "total panic," as he copes with the challenges of living with HIV/AIDS. Being excessively judgmental and ill informed is certainly not helpful.

Dr. Bob

AIDSinfo What You Need to Know About HIV and AIDS

How HIV is Spread

The most common ways HIV is spread are: By having unprotected anal, vaginal, or oral sex with one who is infected with HIV

By sharing needles or syringes ("works") with someone who is infected with HIV

From mothers to their babies before the baby is born, during birth, or through breast-feeding. Taking the drug AZT during pregnancy can reduce the changes of infecting the baby by two-thirds, but will not prevent all babies from becoming infected with HIV.

Earlier in the AIDS epidemic some people became infected through blood transfusions, blood products (such as clotting factors given to people with hemophilia), or organ or tissue transplants. This has been very rare in the United States since 1985, when the test for HIV was licensed. Since then, all donated blood and donors of organs or tissue are tested for HIV. Health care workers, such as nurses, risk getting infected if they are stuck with a needle containing infected blood or splashed with infected blood in the eyes, nose, mouth, or on open cuts or sores. In a few cases, a person sharing a house with a person with HIV infection or taking care of a person with AIDS has become infected themselves. These infections may have been caused by sharing a razor, getting blood from the infected person into open cuts or sores, or some other way of having contact with blood from the infected person. If you are taking care of a person with HIV infection, carefully follow the steps on protecting yourself from infection discussed later.

How HIV is NOT Spread

You don't get HIV from the air, food, water, insects, animals, dishes, knives, forks, spoons, toilet seats, or anything else that doesn't involve blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk. You don't get HIV from feces, nasal fluid, saliva, sweat, tears, urine, or vomit, unless these have blood mixed in them. You can help people with HIV eat, dress, even bathe, without becoming infected yourself, as long as you follow the steps described later in the section on "Protecting Yourself" later in this brochure. You do get other germs from many of the things listed above, so do use common sense.

My HIV does not spread! Oct 2, 2006

I have been living with HIV for 14 years. I have had sex with 3 partners in the 14 years without protection more than 1000 times with each partner and they all remained negative. What kind of HIV infection do I have? What kind of a carrier am I? Whats wrong with me? Are there others like me? What do you call my kind of HIV infection?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

You are HIV positive and knowingly had unprotected sex more than 1,000 times with each of three partners???? You ask "what's wrong with me?" Well, let's see . . . the word irresponsible comes immediately to mind, followed by reckless, thoughtless, clueless, unscrupulous and unconscionable. But perhaps that isn't the type of response you were looking for. So, difficult as it is for me to put aside your conscienceless behavior, let me address your other concerns:

1. What kind of HIV do you have? I have no way of determining that with so little information. One question I have is: are you sure you are HIV positive? Have you had an HIV-positive test result that has subsequently been confirmed? If not, that may well explain this entire scenario.

2. What kind of carrier am I? There are no "HIV carriers." You either have HIV disease or you don't. It's like being pregnant: Either you are or you aren't!

3. Are others like you? When it comes to your behavior, I certainly hope not!

4. What do I call your kind of HIV infection? Again, the list of terms I would use here would not be ones you would want to hear, so I'll restrain from using them.

I suggest:

1. You see an HIV specialist if you are not already doing so.

2. Stop placing others at risk for HIV disease. To continue to do so is morally reprehensible.

Dr. Bob



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