HIV Information

HIV (virus that causes AIDS) infection may have no symptoms. HIV risk can be decreased by using condoms and with medications (PEP, PrEP). The blood test detects antibodies to the virus and proteins associated with the virus. The test can be falsely negative soon after exposure, so repeat testing is needed if concerned. Treatment options are available if positive.


The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care, and more often if you do things that might increase your risk for getting HIV such as:

  • Are you a man who has had sex with another man?

  • Have you had sex—anal or vaginal—with an HIV-positive partner?

  • Have you had more than one sex partner since your last HIV test?

  • Have you injected drugs and shared needles or works (for example, water or cotton) with others?

  • Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?

  • Have you been diagnosed with or sought treatment for another sexually transmitted disease?

  • Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?

  • Have you had sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions or someone whose sexual history you don’t know?

You should be tested at least once a year if you keep doing any of these things. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (for example, every 3 to 6 months).



In 2017, 38,739 people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States and dependent areas. The annual number of new diagnoses declined 9% from 2010 to 2016 in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

An estimated 1.1 million people in the United States had HIV at the end of 2016, the most recent year for which this information is available. Of those people, about 14%, or 1 in 7, did not know they had HIV.

In 2017, gay and bisexual men accounted for 66% of all HIV diagnoses in the United States and 6 dependent areas. In the same year, individuals who got HIV infection through heterosexual sex made up 24% of all HIV diagnoses.

Young people aged 13 to 24 are especially affected by HIV. In 2017, young people accounted for 21% of all new HIV diagnoses. All young people are not equally at risk, however. Young gay and bisexual men accounted for 83% of all new HIV diagnoses in people aged 13 to 24 in 2017 (includes young gay and bisexual men who inject drugs), and young African American gay and bisexual men are even more severely affected.


In the US, HIV is transmitted mainly by the following two methods. It is transmitted through certain body fluids — blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk—from a person who has HIV. These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane (rectum, vagina, penis, and mouth) or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to occur. Sharing needles or syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare drugs for injection with someone who has HIV can also transmit it. HIV can live in a used needle up to 42 days depending on temperature and other factors. For extremely rare cases including obtaining it through oral sex, please visit:

Signs and symptoms of HIV progress in stages. For more information, please go to:

  • Acute HIV infection

    • Within 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV, about two-thirds of people will have a flu-like illness. This is the body’s natural response to HIV infection. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Some people do not have symptoms at all during this early stage of HIV. During this early stage of infection, you are at very high risk of transmitting HIV to others.

      • Fever

      • Chills

      • Rash

      • Night sweats

      • Muscle aches

      • Sore throat

      • Fatigue

      • Swollen lymph nodes

      • Mouth ulcers

  • Clinical latency

    • In this stage, the virus still multiplies, but at very low levels. People in this stage may not feel sick or have any symptoms. This stage is also called chronic HIV infection.

    • Without HIV treatment, people can stay in this stage for 10 or 15 years, but some move through this stage faster.

    • If you take HIV treatment every day, exactly as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you can protect your health and prevent transmission to others. But if your viral load is detectable, you can transmit HIV during this stage, even when you have no symptoms. It’s important to see your health care provider regularly to get your level checked.

  • AIDS

    • If you have HIV and you are not on HIV treatment, eventually the virus will weaken your body’s immune system and you will progress to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). This is the late stage of HIV infection.

      • Symptoms of AIDS can include:

  • Rapid weight loss

  • Recurring fever or profuse night sweats

  • Extreme and unexplained tiredness

  • Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck

  • Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week

  • Sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals

  • Pneumonia

  • Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids

  • Memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorder




An antigen/antibody test (we do this specific test at the health center lab) performed by a laboratory on blood from a vein can usually detect HIV infection as soon as 18 days to 45 days after an exposure. If you had a laboratory blood test drawn less than 45 days after a possible HIV exposure and the result is negative, follow-up testing can begin 45 days after the possible HIV exposure.

If your partner is HIV-negative, encourage them to make an appointment to talk to their health care provider to see if taking daily medicine to prevent HIV (called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP) is right for them.

If you think your partner might have been recently exposed to HIV—for example, if the condom breaks during sex and you aren’t virally suppressed—they should make an appointment to talk to a health care provider as soon as possible within the next 3 days (72 hours) about taking medicines (called post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP) to prevent getting HIV.

If you have more questions, refer to the CDC’s website:






Antiretroviral therapy (ART) reduces HIV-related morbidity and mortality at all stages of HIV infection and reduces HIV transmission. When taken consistently as prescribed, ART can suppress viral load, maintain high CD4 cell counts, prevent AIDS, prolong survival, and reduce risk of transmitting HIV to others, all of which are important treatment goals. Current treatment guidelines recommend ART for all people with HIV, regardless of CD4 cell count. ART should be started as soon as possible after diagnosis and should be accompanied by patient education regarding the benefits and risks of ART and the importance of adherence to ART.





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