HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It is spread mainly through blood to blood contact and unprotected sexual contact. It was also spread through blood transfusions until the new strict blood screening for transfusions were put in place. 

Today, it is more successfully treated and people with it are living much longer than 20 years ago. 

The problem

The problems comes from far too many people do not realize they have it, they do not get tested, and there for are not taking the proper medication for it. 

  • Nearly 1 in 5 people do not know they have HIV
  • Those who do not know they have HIV have a greater risk of serious health issues and early death
  • People who do not know they have the virus can pass it unknowingly to others
  • It is reported that 1.2 million people in the US are living with HIV
  • Young people and those who do not practice safe sexual habits should get tested.
  • Gay men (men who sleep with men), use injectable drugs without clean needles, and those people who have more than one sexual partner should get tested once a year.  

Treatments

There is new hope today for people with HIV, while there is still no cure, you can live a much longer fuller life. The new drugs can slow down the virus, make it harder to spread, and help those infected lower the chances of AIDS. The new treatment is ART (antiretroviral therapy).

  • By lowering the amount of virus in the body people can live longer healthier lives
  • By keeping the virus under control with medications lowers the chance of passing on the virus
  • People who know they have the virus (only 28%) get regular medical care, take ART, and have the HIV virus under control
  • Even though many people live longer today due to better health care and ART still roughly 16,000 people a year die from AIDS
  • Healthcare providers and doctors need to help people with HIV get the proper care and treatment

Prevention

  • Abstinence
  • Safe sexual practices (using condoms), having a monogamous long term relationship
  • Being honest with potential sex partners
  • Prevention counseling

In the past year only 45% of people with HIV getting medical care also got prevention counseling from their health care providers

  • What prevention counseling teaches is how to stay healthy as much as possible,  and prevent passing  hiv. STD testing, treatment services, drug rehab, housing and financial services, helping you to notify partners, and other services are all included in the prevention services
  • As part of regular HIV care, patients should prevention counseling and services, even those who virus is controlled 

What can we do to help?

  • Education is foremost
  • Practice less risky lifestyles – protected sex, do not share needles, get tested, and get on medication
  • Government,  local agencies need to help with funding, testing, medicines, and research
  • Provide information to general public as to where they can get testing done, where they can get information on HIV, and where they can get assistance with living with HIV