HIV/AIDS: Frequently Asked Questions
Programs That Provide Access to Healthcare and Treatment for People Living With HIV
A. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency ["im-you-no-de-fish-en-see"] Virus -- is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). HIV attacks and kills the cells in our bodies that keep us from getting diseases. This makes people with HIV get illnesses that healthy people do not get. When a person with HIV gets very sick from pneumonia, some kinds of cancer, and other life-threatening diseases, they are said to have AIDS. AIDS is a fatal disease. Here is more information on HIV/AIDS.
The signs of HIV/AIDS are:
Some women with HIV/AIDS have no signs of the disease. Other women do not show any signs of HIV/AIDS until many years after they were infected.
A. HIV/AIDS is treated with two groups of medicines. One group of medicines is used to slow the spread of the virus. The other group of medicines is used to fight illnesses that are caused by a weakened immune system. These medicines cannot cure HIV/AIDS, but they do help people live a healthier life for a longer period of time than if they did not take any medicine. Finding and treating HIV/AIDS early is the best way to take care of yourself.
A. Most people with untreated HIV/AIDS get sick more quickly than people taking HIV/AIDS medicine.
A. Yes. Women with HIV/AIDS have more chance of getting pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and cervical cancer. Women with HIV/AIDS should be checked for these diseases every year. Doctors say that women with HIV/AIDS should have a Pap smear two times a year.
A. Get a blood test. The first test shows if you have signs of HIV in your blood. A second blood test will be done to check the results of the first blood test. Having two blood tests helps make sure the "positive for HIV" or "negative for HIV" results are right.
A. Yes. A pregnant woman can pass HIV/AIDS to her baby before or during birth. Also a mother can pass HIV/AIDS on to her baby through breast-feeding. About one out of four babies get HIV/AIDS from their mothers. The drug zidovudine (also known as AZT) is given to pregnant women with HIV/AIDS to lower their chances of passing the infection to their babies. Doctors say that all pregnant women should be tested for HIV/AIDS.
A. HIV/AIDS cannot be cured. That is why it is so important to keep from getting it in the first place. Here are ways to keep from getting HIV/AIDS.
A. Here are ways to take care of yourself and others.
A. More women are now taking part in AIDS clinical trials across the country. Studies are looking at the signs of HIV/AIDS in women and how HIV/AIDS is passed to babies. Also, doctors are testing creams and gels that women can use to protect themselves from getting HIV/AIDS. If you want more information about AIDS clinical trials, call the AIDS Clinical Trials Information Service, (800) TRIALS-A.
You can find out more about AIDS and HIV by contacting the National Women's Health Information Center (800-994-9662) or the following organizations:
CDC National AIDS Hotline Phone:
CDC National Prevention Information Network Phone:
HIV/AIDS Treatment Service Phone:
This article was provided by U.S. Public Health Service's Office on Women's Health.