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About HIV/AIDS

About HIV/AIDS

Source: CDC.gov

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system.  The result is unfortunately a weakened immune system, and that person is then more susceptible to other diseases and infections.

“If HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).” according to HIV.gov

Although there is no cure for HIV or AIDS, there are treatments that enable people with the infection to live healthy, long lives.

Preventative measures for HIV include:

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)

Post exposure measures for HIV include:

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
ART – Antiretroviral Therapy

“You can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. These fluids are:
  • Blood
  • Semen (cum) and pre-seminal fluid
  • Rectal fluids
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Breast milk
For transmission to occur, the HIV in these fluids must get into the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person through a mucous membrane (found in the rectum, vagina, mouth, or tip of the penis); open cuts or sores; or by direct injection. People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.”

(Source: hiv.gov)

Anyone can be at risk of getting infected with HIV, however certain groups are more at risk to get infected.

According to the CDC:

“Communities. When you live in a community where many people have HIV infection, the chance of being exposed to HIV by having sex or sharing needles or other injection equipment with someone who has HIV is higher. You can use CDC’s HIV, STD, hepatitis, and tuberculosis Atlas Plus to see the percentage of people with HIV (“prevalence”) in different U.S. counties and states, as well as other data. Within any community, the prevalence of HIV can vary among different subpopulations.

Subpopulations. In the United States, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are the population most affected by HIV. According to CDC, in 2018, gay and bisexual men accounted for 69% of new HIV diagnoses. By race/ethnicity, Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Also, transgender women who have sex with men are among the groups at highest risk for HIV infection, and injection drug users remain at significant risk for getting HIV.

Risk behaviors. In the United States, HIV is spread mainly through having anal or vaginal sex or sharing needles or syringes with an HIV-positive partner. Anal sex is the highest-risk behavior. Fortunately, there are more HIV prevention tools available today than ever before. These include using condoms correctly, every time you have sex; pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a prevention method in which the HIV-negative partner takes daily HIV medicine to prevent HIV; and treatment as prevention, a method in which the HIV-positive partner takes daily HIV medicine to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load. If a person with HIV takes HIV treatment every day exactly as prescribed and gets and keeps an undetectable viral load, they have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their partners through sex.

Visit the CDC’s U.S. Statistics page for more information on how HIV affects different populations.”

(Source: hiv.gov)

To learn about how COVID-19 impacts people living with HIV, click here

Woman holds a condom in her hand HIV/AIDS can be prevented with the usage of condoms during sex.  Be sure to practice safe sex to protect yourself and others.  For information and visual guides on how to use condoms, please click here.

In addition to condoms, there is now a daily pill that can prevent HIV, called PrEP.  Read below to learn more about PrEP..

Advancements in technology and medicine has led to the creation of a daily pill that helps prevent contracting and the spread of HIV.

According to Hivcare.org, PrEP is best for those who:

“1. Have an HIV positive partner
 2. Have an at-risk HIV partner:

a.  This would include individuals who have had anal or vaginal sex without condoms.
b.  People who have had sex partners in the past six months that do not know their HIV status
c.  People who use injection drugs 

  • Have a partner that has sex partners who do not use condoms regularly 
  • Have a partner that has been diagnosed with another STD in the past six months (chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, hpv)
  • Have injected drugs, shared needles, or recently undergone treatment for drug use in the past six months”


You should still always use condoms with PrEP pills.

Please note that Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is not designed for those that are already HIV positive.  Instead, it is meant for people who are at high risk for coming in contact with vaginal, semen, and/or blood fluids.

Ask your doctor or request an appointment with us for more guidance with PrEP.

Cffhae.org has multiple locations throughout southern california that can provide AIDS and HIV testing, HIV PrEP (Pre-Exposure) medication prescriptions, HIV PEP (Post-Exposure), and more.

Click here to request your HIV Preventative Care Appointment.

Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once.”  -CDC.gov

Here is an even better reason: About 1 in 8 people in the United States who have HIV do not know they have it. (Hiv.gov)

Knowing your HIV status is important in protecting your longevity. and preventing spread.  If you feel that you are a higher risk individual, you should get tested more often.

Here are the Cdc guidelines for determining if you are high risk and how often to get tested for HIV:

“People at higher risk should get tested more often. If you were HIV-negative the last time you were tested, the test was more than one year ago, and you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then you should get an HIV test as soon as possible:

  1. Are you a man who has had sex with another man?
  2. Have you had sex—anal or vaginal—with a partner who has HIV?
  3. Have you had more than one sex partner since your last HIV test?
  4. Have you injected drugs and shared needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment (for example, cookers) with others?
  5. Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
  6. Have you been diagnosed with or treated for another sexually transmitted disease?
  7. Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?
  8. Have you had sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions or someone whose sexual history you don’t know?

You should be tested at least once a year if you keep doing any of these things. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (for example, every 3 to 6 months).” – Source: Cdc.gov/hiv

Source: CDC.gov

According to the CDC: “There are three types of tests available: nucleic acid tests (NAT), antigen/antibody tests, and antibody tests. HIV tests are typically performed on blood or oral fluid. They may also be performed on urine.
  • NAT looks for the actual virus in the blood and involves drawing blood from a vein. The test can either tell if a person has HIV or tell how much virus is present in the blood (known as an HIV viral load test). While a NAT can detect HIV sooner than other types of tests, this test is very expensive and not routinely used for screening individuals unless they recently had a high-risk exposure or a possible exposure and have early symptoms of HIV infection.
  • An antigen/antibody test looks for both HIV antibodies and antigens. Antibodies are produced by your immune system when you’re exposed to viruses like HIV. Antigens are foreign substances that cause your immune system to activate. If you have HIV, an antigen called p24 is produced even before antibodies develop. Antigen/antibody tests are recommended for testing done in labs and are now common in the United States. This lab test involves drawing blood from a vein. There is also a rapid antigen/antibody test available that is done with a finger prick.
  • HIV antibody tests only look for antibodies to HIV in your blood or oral fluid. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein can detect HIV sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid. Most rapid tests and the only currently approved HIV self-test are antibody tests.”

    -Source: Cdc.gov

Learn more about HIV testing at Cdc.gov/hiv

Understanding your HIV test results is easy!  However do keep in mind that no HIV test can detect infection immediately after exposure.

If you think you have been exposed to HIV in the past 3 days or 72 hours, you may be a candidate for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

Call or Request an Appointment for HIV Care if you are in Southern California >

Test Result shows Negative:

Most likely you do not have HIV.  The accuracy depends on the type of test taken, and the window of time between exposure and testing.

The time it takes for an infection to show positive in a HIV test, based on type of test:

  1. Nucleic acid test (NAT) anywhere from 10 to 33 days after an exposure.
  2. Antigen/antibody test:
    a.  Test taken from a vein, anywhere from 18 to 45 days after an exposure.b.  Test taken from a finger prick can take even longer, anywhere from 18 to 90 days after an exposure.
  3. Antibody tests can take 23 to 90 days after an exposure. Most rapid tests and self-tests are antibody tests. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein can detect HIV sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid.

(Source: Cdc.gov)

Test Result shows Positive:

Depending on your situation, you may be given a 2nd follow-up test to confirm.

If you test positive for HIV, there are HIV treatments that can reduce the viral load to nearly undetectable levels!  This means you will still be able to live a long healthy life, as long as you take the HIV medication to suppress the virus.

HIV treatment can also help reduce the chance of transmitting.

If you have been diagnosed as HIV positive, it is important to use condoms even if you are medication treatment.

To learn more about living with HIV, visit cdc.gov/hiv/basics/livingwithhiv

Notice:  The information contained on this page is for educational purposes only.  Cffhae.org is not responsible for in-accuracies or errors.  Please consult with a medical professional for guidance.

Any mention of, or the use of material from Cdc.gov, hiv.gov, hivcare.org, etc.. does not imply endorsement by these organizations.  We encourage visitors of this page to visit the links on this page, and we thank the Cdc and Hiv.gov for making HIV material readily available, for the good of public health education and raising awareness.