AIDS is the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, a serious illness which makes the body unable to fight infections. A person with AIDS is susceptible to certain infections and cancers. When a person's body cannot fight off infection, it will become ill and sometimes die. AIDS is caused by a virus called Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
How Is HIV/AIDS Transmitted?
- Sexual contact (oral, anal or vaginal intercourse) with an infected person when blood, semen or vaginal secretions are exchanged.
- Sharing a syringe or needle with someone who is infected.
- Receiving contaminated blood or blood products (very unlikely now, since March 1985, blood used for transfusion has been tested).
- An infected mother may pass the virus to her child before or during childbirth.
You cannot get HIV/AIDS through casual, non-sexual contact such as:
- Sharing food, utensils or plates
- Touching someone who is infected with HIV
- Touching or shaking hands
- Donating blood (has NEVER been a risk for contracting HIV)
- Using public restrooms
- Being bitten by mosquitoes or other insects
- Do not share needles or syringes with anyone
- Do not have sexual intercourse except with a permanent partner who you know is not infected. If you choose to have sex with any-one else, use latex condoms along with a spermicidal containing Nonoxynol-9 every time you have sex
- If you are pregnant, or attempting to become pregnant, you are encouraged to be tested for HIV
- Educate yourself and others about HIV infection and AIDS
Early diagnosis of HIV infection is important. Persons with HIV must get prompt medical treatment. Call your local health department or the KY AIDS Hotline at 800-654-2437 for more information on testing and treatment. You don't have to be afraid of a person living with HIV/AIDS.