STIs Explained: HIV and AIDS

Since today, June 27, is National HIV Testing Day, I thought I could dispel some myths and lay out the facts about HIV and AIDS. It is a serious issue so let's get down to business.

HIV - the human immunodeficiency virus - is a virus that kills your body’s "CD4 cells," (also called T-helper cells), that help your body fight off infection and disease.


HIV can be passed when an infected person's bodily fluids (blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk) come in contact with an uninfected person's mucous membranes. The HIV virus can be passed during any type of sexual contact - including oral and anal sex. Sharing needles can also transmit HIV from one user to another. HIV-positive mothers can also pass it onto their babies when they are pregnant, when they deliver, or if they breastfeed.

AIDS - the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome - is a disease you get when the HIV virus destroys your body’s immune system. That means that viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria that usually don't cause any problems can make you very sick since your immune system is damaged.

To prevent HIV and other STIs in the first place abstaining from sexual contact is your best bet, but the likelihood that happening is rare. So always use a latex or polyurethane condom when having sex. Or better yet, have you and your partner get tested before you get intimate.

Fit's Tips: Many people who have HIV do not show symptoms for many years, so the best thing to do is get tested just to make sure.

Want to know more about HIV and AIDS? Then read more


STI Symptoms How do you test for it? Treatment
HIV and AIDS
  • rapid weight loss
  • dry cough
  • extreme fatigue
  • swollen lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
  • diarrhea that lasts more than a week
  • white spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat
  • red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
  • memory loss, depression, and other neurological disorders
  • pneumonia
Anonymous HIV testing is available in many places and it's usually free

You can have a blood test, or a simple oral test that checks for HIV antibodies.

People who have HIV antibodies are called HIV-positive.

There are treatments to help HIV symptoms, but there is no known cure yet

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