Frequently asked questions about HIV and HIV testing
What is HIV? What is AIDS?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks your body’s immune system, which is essential for fighting infection and disease. Specifically, HIV invades important cells in your body, uses those cells to make more copies of itself, and then destroys them.
If left untreated, HIV can lead to a diagnosis of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). People who are diagnosed with AIDS usually have a severely damaged immune system, which puts them at increased risk for more serious illnesses. Fortunately, there are now more ways than ever to prevent and treat HIV.
How do you contract HIV?
HIV is transmitted through the following bodily fluids: blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal secretions, rectal secretions and breast milk.
Most often, HIV is transmitted through anal or vaginal sex without a condom or through injection drug use. You cannot get HIV from kissing, hugging, or other types of non-sexual physical contact.
Where can I get tested for HIV?
How often should I get tested?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine health care.
Some people, including those at higher risk of being diagnosed with HIV, including gay and bisexual men who have sex with men, transgender women, and injection drug users, should consider getting test more often, as HIV is particularly prevalent in these communities.
Pregnant women should get tested during their first trimester.
Transgender people and HIV: what we know
Despite several years of research on HIV/AIDS and the populations it affects, we know very little about transgender people and HIV. In the vast majority of studies, transgender people have only been counted by their sex assigned at birth, which not only ignores their identity, but leaves them relatively invisible to public health officials and advocacy organizations working in HIV prevention, treatment and health. care.
Critical issues related to transgender people and HIV:
HRC’s guide to getting it right: HIV reporting
Tip 1: Avoid confusing HIV with AIDS. These two are related but should not be used interchangeably.
Tip 2: Recognize that while HIV may be more common among LGBTQ people – especially young, gay and bisexual men and transgender women – anyone can get or transmit HIV. Be careful not to imply otherwise.
Tip 3: Understand the importance and difference between PrEP and PEP. Avoid perpetuating false narratives about either strategy.
Tip 4: Expand coverage to include structural factors that often increase the spread and stigma of HIV, such as poverty, racism and HIV criminalization.
Tip 5: Include the voices of people living with HIV in your stories, but remember that people living with HIV are not just about their diagnosis.
Tip 6: Avoid using terms that are not only outdated and inaccurate, but can also stigmatize people living with and affected by HIV.