Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The virus weakens a person's ability to fight infections and cancer.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. the estimated number of people with HIV/AIDS is about 1,185,000 with approximately 25% of them unaware of their infection. A person gets HIV when an infected person's body fluids (blood, semen, fluids from the vagina or breast milk) enter his or her bloodstream. The virus can enter the blood through linings in the mouth, anus, vagina, penis or through broken skin.
Both men and women can spread HIV. A person with HIV can feel okay and still give the virus to others. Pregnant women with HIV also can give the virus to their babies.
Anyone can get HIV if they engage in certain activities. You may have a higher risk of getting HIV if you:
Have unprotected sex. This means vaginal or anal intercourse without a condom or oral sex without a latex barrier with a person infected with HIV.
Share needles to inject drugs or steroids with an infected person. The disease can also be transmitted by dirty needles used to make a tattoo or in body piercing.
The only way to know if you have HIV is to take an HIV test. Most tests looks for signs of HIV in your blood. A small sample of blood is taken from your arm. The blood is sent to a lab and tested for HIV.
It is recommended that people who engage in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex or needle-sharing and all pregnant women be tested for HIV infection.
Some people get flu-like symptoms: Fever, Night sweats, Feeling tired all the time, Feeling sick all the time, Losing weight, Swollen glands. More Symptoms
You have an increased risk of becoming infected with HIV through sexual contact if you:
Have unprotected sex (do not use condoms from start to finish).
Have multiple sex partners.
Are a man who has sex with other men.
Have high-risk partner(s) (partner has multiple sex partners, is a man who has sex with other men, or injects drugs).
Have or have recently had a sexually transmitted disease, such as syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, or hepatitis.
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