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What you need to know about HIV and STDs
Should I get tested?
The following behaviors increase your risk of getting HIV. If you answer yes to any of these questions you should definitely get an HIV test. If you continue with any of these behaviors, you should be tested every year.
· Have you shared injection drug/steroid equipment (needles, syringes, works) with others?
· Have you had unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with men who have sex with men, multiple partners, or anonymous partners?
· Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
· Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis, tuberculosis (TB), or a sexually transmitted disease (STD), like syphilis?
· Have you had unprotected sex with anyone who could answer yes to any of the above?
If you have had sex with someone with an unknown sex or drug use history, or your partner has had many sex partners, your chance of being infected increases.
You and a new partner should get an HIV test, and learn the results, before having sex for the first time.
For women who plan to become pregnant, testing is even more important. If a woman is infected with HIV, medical care and certain drugs given during pregnancy can lower the risk of passing HIV to her baby. All women who are pregnant should be tested during each pregnancy.
How long after a possible exposure should I wait to get tested for HIV?
It takes roughly 28 days for the test to detect HIV. This is called the “window period.” Since there is a chance that you don’t know the date of exposure, a negative HIV test should be repeated in one month. Anyone can get HIV. The most important thing to know is that you can only get the virus through the behaviors outlined above.
You can not get HIV:
- By working with or being around someone who has HIV.
- From sweat, spit, tears, clothes, drinking fountains, phones, toilet seats, sharing a meal.
- From insect bites or stings.
- From donating blood.
- From a closed-mouth kiss (there is a very small chance you can get infected by "French" kissing with an infected person because of possible blood contact).
How do I know if I have HIV?
You might have HIV and still feel perfectly healthy. The only way to know for sure if you are infected or not is to be tested. Contact us at 313-963-3434 to schedule an appointment or see your physician.
The information on your HIV test and test results are confidential, as is your other medical information. This means it can be shared only with people authorized to see your medical records. You can ask your doctor, health care provider, or HIV counselor at the place you are tested to explain who can obtain this information.
CDC recommends that everyone know their HIV status. If you have been tested for HIV and the result is negative and you never do things that might transmit the disease, you need not re-test. Consider Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) if you are at very high risk for HIV. Truvada® taken daily will lower your chances of getting infected from a sexual or injection-drug-using partner who’s positive.
You can be tested anonymously or confidentially. When you get an anonymous HIV test, the test site records only a number or code with the test result, not your name. A counselor gives you this number at the time the test is administered.
What can I do if the test shows I have HIV?
Although HIV is a very serious infection, many people with HIV are living longer, healthier lives today, thanks to new and effective treatments. It is very important to make sure you have a doctor who knows how to treat HIV. If you don’t know which doctor to use, talk with a health care professional or trained HIV counselor. If you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, this is especially important.
How can I protect myself?
- Don’t share needles and syringes used to inject drugs, steroids, vitamins, or for tattooing or body piercing. Also, don’t share equipment ("works") used to prepare drugs to be injected. Many people have been infected with HIV, hepatitis, and other germs this way. Germs from an infected person can stay in a needle and then be injected directly into the next person who uses the needle.
- The surest way to avoid transmission is to abstain from sexual intercourse, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and you know is uninfected.
- For persons whose sexual behaviors place them at risk for HIV or other STIs, correct and consistent use of the male latex condom can reduce the risk of transmission. However, no protective method is 100 percent effective, and condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection. The more sex partners you have, the greater your risk of getting HIV or other diseases passed through sex.
- Condoms used with a lubricant are less likely to break. Condoms must be used correctly and consistently to be effective and protective. Incorrect use can lead to condom slippage or breakage, thus diminishing the protective effect. Failure to use condoms with every act of intercourse can result in STI transmission because transmission can occur with a single act of intercourse.
- Don’t share razors or toothbrushes because they may have the blood of another person on them.
- If you are pregnant or think you might be soon, talk to a doctor or your local health department about being tested for HIV. If you have HIV, drug treatments are available to help you and they can reduce the chance of passing HIV to your baby.
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES (STDs)
What is a sexually transmitted disease?
HEPATITIS C (HCV)
How is Hepatitis C spread?
Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most people become infected with Hepatitis C by sharing needles, syringes, or any other injection drug paraphernalia. While uncommon, poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks in healthcare settings. While rare, sexual transmission of Hepatitis C is possible. Having a sexually transmitted disease or HIV, sex with multiple partners, or rough sex appears to increase a person’s risk for Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C can also be spread when getting tattoos and body piercings in unlicensed facilities, informal settings, or with non-sterile instruments. Also, approximately 6% of infants born to infected mothers will get Hepatitis C. Still, some people don’t know how or when they got infected.
How would you know if you have Hepatitis C?
The only way to know if you have Hepatitis C is to get tested. Doctors use a blood test, called a Hepatitis C Antibody Test, which looks for antibodies to the Hepatitis C virus. Antibodies are chemicals released into the bloodstream when someone gets infected. Antibodies remain in the bloodstream, even if the person clears the virus. A positive or reactive Hepatitis C Antibody Test means that a person has been infected with the Hepatitis C virus at some point in time. However, a positive antibody test does not necessarily mean a person still has Hepatitis C. An additional test called a RNA test is needed to determine if a person is currently infected with Hepatitis C.
Can Hepatitis C be treated?
Yes. However, treatment depends on many different factors, so it is important to see a doctor experienced in treating Hepatitis C. New and improved treatments are available that can cure Hepatitis C for many people.