Why get tested?
You cannot tell your HIV status by symptoms. Symptoms for HIV may not occur for years after you become infected, so many people who are infected do not know it. Initial symptoms of HIV are very common and may be associated with a variety of illnesses. If you are feeling sick or having symptoms you should see your doctor. However, if you think you might have been at risk of getting HIV, you must get an HIV test to know if you did become infected or not.
Are HIV and AIDS the same thing?
No. HIV and AIDS are not interchangeable terms, although the media often uses them that way. HIV is a tiny microscopic organism. AIDS is a specific collection of illnesses or diseases caused by having the HIV virus in your body. A person can have HIV for many years without showing any symptoms of AIDS. Some people have been infected with HIV for 15 years or more without having symptoms. They are considered to be HIV positive. When an HIV positive person develops minor symptoms it may be a sign that the disease is progressing. A doctor would determine, based on the symptoms and certain blood test if the person has AIDS or not.
How is HIV/AIDS transmitted?
Saliva, Sweat, Tears, and Urine do not transmit HIV — But, semen, blood, and vaginal fluids do. Any activity that includes no direct contact with your partner’s semen, blood or vaginal fluids is safe. Activities that do involve direct contact with semen, blood, or vaginal fluids are risky. Any precautions that reduce the chance of direct contact with those fluids will make sex safer.
How can I protect myself/my partner from contracting HIV?