A  A  A   Print
What You Need to Know About AIDS

What You Need to Know About AIDS

Some people are so fearful of infection by HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS, they won't shake hands with someone who is HIV-positive.

But you can't get the infection unless you have unprotected sexual contact with an infected person, share needles, or come in contact with infected blood or blood products.

HIV isn't transmitted by casual contact. You cannot get it from sharing water fountains, toilet seats, pencils, or pens. And it's not spread through coughing or sneezing, tears, sweat, urine, or saliva.

To protect yourself from the deadly AIDS virus, it's imperative to understand how it is spread.

Sexual transmission

Homosexuals and heterosexuals alike are at risk. Infected people can pass HIV to anyone with whom they have intimate contact. Men can infect female or male partners, as can women. If you have many sexual partners, you increase your chances of encountering someone who's infected.

To protect yourself, use condoms unless you're absolutely certain your partner isn't HIV-positive.

Drug and needle use

Injecting drugs with someone who's HIV-positive puts you at risk. Dried blood can stay on a needle or inside a syringe, then be transferred to the next user. Because you can't tell by looking whether a person has HIV, sharing needles is always dangerous.

You're also at risk if you have any part of your body pierced or get a tattoo. If you have either of these procedures, make sure the person providing the service uses only new, sterile needles.

Blood transfusions

Today, blood that is used in transfusions in the United States is rigorously tested for HIV and several other contagious viruses, so there is only a very slight chance of getting HIV from a transfusion. That wasn't the case a decade ago.

Stopping the spread

The following steps can help you prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS:

  • Find out all you can about HIV and AIDS so you can protect yourself. Share your knowledge with family members and friends.

  • If you don't know your partner's sexual history, abstain from sexual relations or use a condom when having sex.

  • Don't inject drugs of any kind. Don't share needles or syringes. Seek medical help if you have a drug problem.

  • Have an HIV test if you've participated in unsafe sex or drug use. Encourage friends to do the same.

  • Postpone pregnancy if it's possible you've been infected. Unborn children can contract the disease from their mothers, although there are medications that can prevent this. Your doctor can offer advice, as can family-planning services.

Education is key to AIDS prevention. For further information, contact these resources: American Sexual Health Association website and hotline, 919-361-8488, and HIV/AIDS Education and Resource Center.

Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.