HIV & AIDS Basics


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HIV (Human Immunodificiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the cells of your immune system used to fight infections and disease (T-cells). When HIV invades these cells, it uses them to make copies of itself and kills the cells. Without proper treatment for HIV, the virus can destroy so many T-cells your immune system cannot protect you from infections and diseases any longer, leading to AIDS.


AIDS (Acquired ImmunoDificiency Syndrome) is the final stage of HIV. Not everyone who has HIV will advance to develop AIDS. People at this stage of HIV have such badly damaged immune systems, very low or no T-cells, they are at risk for opportunistic infections, such as pneumonia and cancer. If you have AIDS you will need vigorous anti retroviral treatment to prevent death.



HIV is generally transmitted in three ways, by sexual contact, IV drug use and child birth and breast feeding. Although the virus can be contracted from blood transfusion and occupational exposure, they are uncommon with the safety standards set by the United States Government. There is no cure for HIV, and the only way to know if you have it is to get tested!


HIV is transmitted in body fluids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these fluids are:

  • BloodSemen (cum)
  • Pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum)
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Breast milk
  • Rectal fluids


For transmission to occur, theses fluids must come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue, or be directly injected into your blood stream. Mucous membranes are soft moist areas found in the openings to your body. They can be found in the opening of the penis, inside the vagina, mouth and rectum.


Less commonly, HIV may be spread by:


  • Being born to an infected mother. HIV can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
  • Being stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object. This is a risk mainly for health care workers.
  • Receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV.

This risk is extremely small because of rigorous testing of the U.S. blood supply and donated organs and tissues.


  • Eating food that has been pre-chewed by an HIV-infected person. The contamination occurs when infected blood from a caregiver’s mouth mixes with food while chewing, and is very rare.
  • Being bitten by a person with HIV. Each of the very small number of documented cases has involved severe trauma with extensive tissue damage and the presence of blood. There is no risk of transmission if the skin is not broken.
  • Oral sex—using the mouth to stimulate the penis, vagina, or anus (fellatio, cunnilingus, and rimming). Giving fellatio (mouth to penis oral sex) and having the person ejaculate (cum) in your mouth is riskier than other types of oral sex.
  • Contact between broken skin, wounds, or mucous membranes and HIV-infected blood or blood-contaminated body fluids. These reports have also been extremely rare.
  • Deep, open-mouth kissing if the person with HIV has sores or bleeding gums and blood is exchanged. HIV is not spread through saliva. Transmission through kissing alone is extremely rare.


HIV is not spread by:

  • Air or water
  • Insect, including mosquitoes or ticks
  • Saliva, tears or sweat
  • Casual contact like shaking hands, hugging or sharing dishes/drinking glasses
  • Drinking fountains
  • Toilet seats​


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