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Fact Sheet: 10 Things to Know About HIV/AIDS

December 1, 1998

  1. The AIDS pandemic has already resulted in the deaths of approximately 11.7 million people worldwide and will ultimately cause the deaths of the estimated 30.6 million men, women and children around the globe still living with this disease. Roughly 6 million people were newly infected with HIV in 1997 -- nearly 16,000 people each day.

  2. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) results from the late stage of infection with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). In adults, the onset of AIDS can take up to 10 or more years, and new drug therapies can delay the progression of the disease into AIDS even longer. Thus, a person infected with HIV may look and feel healthy for many years, but he or she can still transmit the virus to someone else, which is why it is very important for individuals to get tested.

  3. HIV is transmitted through the exchange of any HIV-infected body fluids. Transfer may occur during all stages of the disease. The HIV virus is found in the following fluids:

    • blood
    • semen (and pre-ejaculate fluid)
    • vaginal secretions
    • breast milk

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    HIV does not survive long outside the body and therefore can only be transmitted when any of the above body fluids from an infected individual enters an uninfected individual.

  4. HIV most frequently is transmitted sexually. The only way you can be completely sure to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV is by abstaining from all sexual contact.

    You can significantly reduce your risk of contracting HIV by:

    • correctly using a latex condom from start to finish, every time you have vaginal or anal intercourse and with each act of oral sex on a man.

    • being aware that HIV can be transmitted through oral sex. Use a dental dam or a condom cut open while perform-ing each act of oral sex on a woman.

    • remembering all semen, even pre-ejaculate fluid, can carry the HIV virus.

    • engaging in safer sex practices that involve no penetration such as kissing, massaging, hugging, touching, body-rubbing and masturbation.

  5. It is important to note that:

    • all blood, organs, and tissue used during transfusions or surgeries have been tested for HIV. All contaminated products are immediately and carefully disposed of by medical professionals.

    • all medical and surgical instruments, including those used for tattooing and body piercing, must be completely sterilized or discarded properly after each use in order to prevent HIV transmission.

    For information on HIV/AIDS in the work-place or referrals to organizations that handle the proper disposal of medical instruments call the CDC National HIV/AIDS Hotline at 1-800-342-AIDS.

  6. Anonymous HIV testing is the only form of HIV testing that is not name based. If you receive a test from an anonymous testing center, no one but you will know the results of your test. Currently, 40 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico offer anonymous testing.

  7. You do not get HIV from:

    • donating blood.
    • mosquito bites or bites from other bugs.
    • sneezes or coughs.
    • touching, hugging or dry kissing a person with HIV.
    • the urine or sweat of an infected person.
    • public restrooms, saunas, showers or pools.
    • sharing towels or clothing.
    • sharing eating utensils or drinks.
    • being friends with a person who has HIV/AIDS.

  8. Young adults (under age 25) are quickly becoming the most at-risk age group, now accounting for an estimated 50% of all new HIV infections in the United States. Teenagers and young people here and around the world need to take an active role in changing the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic by adjusting their behaviors and attitudes toward the disease.

  9. Discriminating against people who are infected with HIV/AIDS or anyone thought to be at risk of infection violates individual human rights and endangers public health. Every person infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS deserves compassion and support, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their infection. Education is crucial in getting this message out.

  10. You can help stop the spread of HIV! Get involved in community efforts. World AIDS Day is a special opportunity every year to focus attention on this urgent challenge that affects us all. It is marked around the world by thousands of different events designed to increase awareness and to express solidarity and compassion. This World AIDS Day -- and every day -- join the worldwide effort to stop the spread of HIV.


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This article was provided by American Association for World Health. It is a part of the publication Be a Force for Change.
 
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