Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, progressively attacks the human immune system. HIV destroys T cells, which can leave the body without the ability to fight off infections and disease. When this happens, the infection has developed into Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
HIV can be transmitted through contaminated blood or by having unprotected sex with a partner who has the virus. Factors that increase your risk of getting the disease include where you live and who your sexual partners are. A way to decrease these risks is by practicing safer sex.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans have an HIV infection rate that is 8 times higher than Caucasians, based on population size. It’s estimated that 1 in 16 African American men and 1 in 32 African American women at some point in their lifetime will be diagnosed with HIV. This may be attributed to a lack of awareness when it comes to knowing your HIV status and socioeconomic issues.
Depending on the stage of HIV infection, you could have flu-like symptoms, which include a fever, sore throat and rash. However, many people who have been infected with HIV do not have any symptoms. Getting tested is very important.
While there is no cure for HIV, it can be controlled with proper medical care. There are approximately 30 different medications to help control the amount of virus in the body and protect the immune system.
The CDC lists the following information on getting tested:
- Visit National HIV and STD Testing Resources by clicking here and enter your ZIP code
- Text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948), and you will receive a text back with a testing site near you
- Call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) to ask for free testing sites in your area
- Contact your local health department
- Get a home testing kit (the Home Access HIV-1 Test System or the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test) from a drugstore.
For more information about HIV/AIDS:
- Office on Women’s Health, U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Practicing safer sex
- The Centers for Disease Control