Aids and You
Separating fact from fiction about the disease and how it affects you. WHAT IS AIDS? AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It is caused by a virus that destroys the body’s ability to fight off illness and disease. The AIDS virus makes you unable to fight other diseases that may invade your body. These opportunistic diseases can kill you. There is presently no cure for AIDS. Who you are has nothing to do with whether or not you are in danger of being infected with AIDS. AIDS can infect anyone, regardless of race, gender, social status, or sexual preference. The AIDS virus is easily avoided. You cannot get it through casual contact in public places, swimming in the same pool as someone with AIDS, from towels in a locker room or a shower, in a whirlpool, or from exercise equipment. The virus cannot be transmitted through a hand shake, a hug, a crowded elevator, or an eating utensil. One will not get the AIDS virus from a mosquito, toilet seat, urine, excrement, sweat, saliva, or even a kiss.
METHODS OF TRANSMISSION
The following are ways that you may become infected with the AIDS virus;
- By having sexual contact (anal, oral, or vaginal intercourse) with an infected person when blood, semen or cervical/vaginal secretions are exchanged
- Sharing a syringe/needle with someone who is infected
- Infected mothers may pass the virus to an unborn child
- Receiving contaminated blood or blood products, organ/tissue transplants and artificial insemination ( these methods are rare now since testing for AIDS virus antibodies began in 1985)
METHODS OF PREVENTION
The following are ways you can prevent yourself from being infected by the AIDS virus:
- Only have sexual intercourse with a monogamous partner who is not infected
- If you have sexual relations with anyone else, make sure that you use a latex condom with a spermicidal, female condom, or dental dam
- Do not share syringes or needles with anyone
- You should be tested for the AIDS virus if pregnant or plan to be pregnant
- Educate yourself and others about the AIDS virus
BEING TESTED FOR THE AIDS VIRUS The “AIDS test” does not actually tell you if you have the AIDS virus, but instead shows if you have been infected with the virus that causes AIDS (HIV). The test looks for changes in the blood that occur after you have been infected with the virus. The Public Health Service recommends that you should be counseled and tested if:
- You have had any sexually transmitted disease since 1978
- You have shared needles for injecting drugs
- You are a man who has had sex with another man; or if you have had sex with a prostitute, male or female
- You have had sex with anyone who has done any of these things mentioned previously
- You are a woman that has engaged in any risky behavior and plan on having a baby or not using birth control
- You have received a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985
Baptist-Physicians’ Surgery Center provides quality services to all patients, regardless of AIDS virus status.
If you have any questions about AIDS, please talk to your doctor, local health department, or hospital. You can also get helpful and confidential information from the National AIDS Hotline- 1-800-342-AIDS – 24 hours a day. The Spanish hotline is 1-800-344-SIDA. The hotline number for the hearing impaired is 1-900-AIDS-TTY.