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Top 10 Things You Should Know About HIV/AIDS:
- If you’re HIV positive, taking medication can be an effective HIV prevention strategy. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health showed that people living with HIV who were in medical treatment for the virus were 93% less likely to transmit the virus sexually.
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is the daily use of an anti-HIV medication by HIV-negative people to prevent an HIV infection. PrEP works. Click here learn more about PrEP.
- Not every exposure to HIV results in infection. Being exposed to HIV is only part of what’s necessary to become infected. The virus must also complete a difficult journey before it can spread, and in some cases the virus dies before it is able to take root.
- The more often you’re exposed to HIV, the more likely you are to become infected. Some people may become HIV positive the first time they engage in risky behavior, and other people may be repeatedly exposed before they contract the virus. The fact remains that a person’s risk of becoming HIV positive increases the more often they risk exposure.
- Rectal fluid can transmit HIV. We used to believe that for an insertive partner in anal sex (aka a “top”), HIV was transmitted through tears in the rectum. However, HIV can be transmitted without bleeding.
- HIV can be detected within weeks. Older testing technology required that a person be infected with HIV for months before it was detectable. Now we can detect HIV within three weeks of infection. This is important because a large portion of new HIV infections are transmitted when you’re newly infected and viral loads are high.
- Late testing can be lethal. The sooner you are diagnosed after becoming infected, the more likely your immune system is stronger and the sooner you can begin lifesaving medication. In Oregon, heterosexual people who test positive for HIV have a 50% chance of having AIDS at the time of the test or developing it within a year. Why? Because they perceive themselves as low risk and so delay getting an HIV test.
- People who are HIV positive can have a near normal life expectancy if they remain engaged in medical care. Improvements in medication over the past decade mean that young people diagnosed with HIV can live into their 70s.
- Not everyone knows how to use a condom correctly. Reduce your risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by learning how to cut the risks of condom breakage, slippage, and leaks.
- The proportion of HIV-positive people over 50 is growing. As medical care extends the lives of people living with HIV, we’ll see more seniors living with the virus.