"HIV" stands for "human immunodeficiency virus." It’s a virus that damages the immune system and, if left untreated, can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The virus gradually weakens the body’s immune system and can lead to complications from even simple infections.
HIV is transmitted through blood, semen (cum) and pre-cum, vaginal secretions, rectal fluids, and breast milk. It is not transmitted through shared or casual contact.
Unlike some other viruses, the human body is unable to rid itself of HIV completely. Once contracted, a person has the virus for life. No effective cure for HIV currently exists, but with proper treatment and medical care, HIV can be controlled. For this reason, it is recommended that all people living with HIV be offered antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Testing positive for HIV is not a "death sentence." With treatment and support, HIV is a manageable illness.
If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, or are due for a test as part of your preventative care, we encourage you to get a confidential HIV test. Visit TPAN’s office for a free, rapid test.