PUBLIC HEALTH FACT SHEET
What is HIV?
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) damages cells in the immune (defense) system that helps to protect the body by fighting off infection and disease. As the virus gradually destroys these cells, the immune system becomes unable to protect against illness. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the last stage of HIV infection.
How is HIV spread?
Getting HIV infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids into your body can put you at risk. This includes having unprotected anal, oral or vaginal sex and sharing needles or drug works.
How is it prevented?
- Use a new, latex condom with a water-based lubricant every time you have sex. Condoms don’t offer 100% protection but they do offer the best protection available.
- Don’t share needles, toothbrushes, eating utensils or razors that could be contaminated with blood or body fluids.
- Don’t shoot drugs. If you do shoot drugs, stop and get into a treatment program.
SYMPTOMS OF HIV (can be caused by other illnesses)
- Constant tiredness
- Persistent fever
- Swollen glands
- Dry nagging cough
- Shortness of breath
- Continued loss of appetite
- Significant weight loss
- Sores or rashes that won't go away
- Chronic yeast infections
- Night sweats
- Changes in memory or vision
- Unusual or persistent infections
- Diarrhea that won't go away