You can NOT get HIV or AIDS through every-day, casual contact
The following information is taken from the most recent American Red Cross HIV/AIDS Facts book:
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV weakens several body systems and destroys the body's immune system, making it easier for life-threatening opportunistic infections to invade the body.
AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is a result of HIV infection that makes the immune system less able to fight infection.
You can NOT get HIV or AIDS by:
- Casual kissing on the cheek
- Shaking hands with an infected person
- Sharing office space with an infected person
- Breathing the same air as an infected person
- Using the same dishes as an infected person
- Using the same bathroom as an infected person
How does a person get HIV?
A person can become infected by sharing needles with someone who has the virus; through having sex (vaginal, oral, or anal) with someone who has the virus; or a baby can become exposed from its infected mother during pregnancy delivery, or through breastfeeding.
What body fluids carry HIV?
A person who has HIV is able to spread it to others through the following body fluids: blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk. In order to contract it, one of these fluids must come in contact with another person's body fluid.
How do I prevent becoming infected with HIV?
Postpone having sex (abstinence is the only 100% safe and effective way to avoid the risk of becoming infected with HIV). If you do have sexual intercourse, be sure to use a latex condom correctly, every time. Avoid sharing needles if you inject drugs. Do not engage in activities that involve exchange of blood, semen, or vaginal fluid. Avoid using drugs or alcohol -- these can impair your judgment.
How do they test blood to find out if a person has HIV?
A blood test is the only way to find out if you are infected with HIV. Most blood today is tested for HIV using the following procedure: first, blood is tested with ELISA (or EIA), which stands for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay. This screening test looks for antibodies to HIV in the blood. If the test detects HIV antibodies, the ELISA is repeated. If the second ELISA also reacts to antibodies, the blood is then tested using a different test, the Western Blot or IFA, to confirm the screening test result. The Western Blot and IFA (Indirect Immunofluorescence Assay) are confirmatory tests most commonly used today. Following this procedure helps make a positive test result nearly 100 percent accurate.
What is an Antibody?
An antibody is a substance in the blood that forms when disease agents such as viruses invade the body. Antibodies usually defend the body against invading disease agents, but the HIV antibody gives no such protection.
Where can I get tested for HIV?
Free, confidential testing is available by calling the OARS office (870) 423-4462.
What if I am HIV positive?
OARS provides a free clinic for persons who are HIV positive or have been diagnosed with AIDS who are living in the five-county geographic area we serve. Call to make an appointment (870) 423-4462.