What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that attaches itself to DC4 cells, spreads to other cells and destroys the immune system. Over time, HIV carriers will lose the ability to fight off infections. If untreated, HIV symptoms have the potential to progress into AIDS, which is an advanced stage of HIV. AIDS is devastating to the immune system, and individuals are extremely vulnerable to other viruses. Learn more about AIDS here.
How do you get HIV?
Exchanging bodily fluids including breast milk, blood-to-blood contact, vaginal fluids and semen spreads HIV. Men and women, from the time they become sexually active, are at risk for HIV. Here are common ways HIV spreads:
- Unprotected sex. HIV can be contracted through semen and vaginal fluids. Eliminate risks by always wearing a condom during sexual encounters.
- Having multiple sex partners. Not knowing your sex partner’s status puts you at a much higher risk for contracting any STD. Having multiple sex partners increases the risk even more.
- Being sexually active while combating another sexually transmitted disease. Open sores (often associated with herpes) can elevate your risk for contracting HIV. Even if you are wearing a condom, any fluid that touches the open wound could increase your risk for HIV.
- Intravenous Drug Users (IDU). Unsanitary needles are another common way to spread HIV. Mostly associated with drug use, needles that are not sanitized or have been used on another individual can carry the virus, even if blood is not visible.
Those living with HIV can still live long and healthy lives as long as they are treated. If you have partaken in any of the above activities, know your status by getting tested as soon as possible. H.O.P.E. provides low cost and free HIV testing in Tulsa and surrounding areas. Schedule a test here.
What are HIV Symptoms?
Are you concerned you have been exposed to HIV? Many compare HIV symptoms to a bad, persistent flu. Here are a few common HIV symptoms to look out for:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Weight loss
- Mouth or genital ulcers
I tested HIV positive, what now?
Good news. It’s not the end of the world. With the progression of modern medicine, there are ways to slow down the virus giving you the opportunity to live a long and healthy life. If caught early, your case of HIV may never develop into AIDS. This means if you have been exposed, it is important to get tested immediately and know where you stand. H.O.P.E. offers low cost and free HIV testing in Tulsa as well as surrounding areas. H.O.P.E. provides counseling with each test to help you understand how to not spread HIV, ways to live with the virus and treatment options.