HIV is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that attacks our body’s immune system and can develop into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
How would I get it?
- Spread through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with an infected partner
- Sharing of drug or steroid use equipment (needles, cookers, or pipes), and unprofessional tattooing
- Mom can pass on to baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding
What kind of symptoms could I have if I am infected?
- Often, people will have very mild or no symptoms are all when they are initially infected.
- Others will experience mild flu-like symptoms (muscle or joint aches, rash, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, headaches, ulcers, weight loss, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea).
- Symptoms can appear shortly after you’ve been infected and then disappear and you may not have symptoms for a long time
- The average length of time for untreated HIV to develop into AIDS is about 10 years
How do I prevent this?
- Condoms and dental dams
- Use your own equipment/needles for drug and steroid use
- PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis): a daily pill helps prevent HIV transmission (learn more about PrEP here)
- PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis): a daily pill helps prevent decrease the risk of
- HIV transmission if you think you’ve been exposed to HIV. PEP needs to be started within 72 hours of exposure and taken for 4 weeks. (learn more about PEP here)
- Both PrEP and PEP are available at our clinic
How do I get tested?
- Standard blood test – although it can take up to 3 months from exposure to developing a positive blood test…. so a repeat blood test in 3 months may be important.
- Results take 1-2 weeks to come back
- Rapid anonymous testing is available through our local Public Health Unit – call 807.625.5900 for more information
What if I test positive?
- Proper supports are in place to guide you through a positive diagnosis and get you started on antiretroviral treatment.
- The infection can cause serious health problems if untreated.
- It is important to notify your partner(s) and you can be assisted through this by a health care professional.
- HIV is a publicly reportable disease and someone from public health will be contacting you to help you through this process and with partner notification.
How do I know it’s gone?
There is no cure for HIV but it is very manageable through antiretroviral therapy. HIV positive people are living long and healthy lives on antiretroviral treatment.
Need more info? Check out sexandu: https://www.sexandu.ca/stis/hiv/
NEW HIV NEWS:
We now know that HIV can be treated very effectively with available medications. This has lead to new information showing that HIV positive people on treatment who have an undetectable viral load CAN NOT spread the infection to their partners.
To learn more about U=U: http://www.catie.ca/en/positiveside/summer-2017/uu
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