HIV - STI

Is this your symptom?

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Some Basics...

  • HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is the cause of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
  • HIV attacks and weakens a person's immune system. It makes a person more likely to get many types of infections.
  • HIV can be spread by vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can be spread by sharing needles or syringes.
  • There is no cure for HIV. However, there are medicines that can slow or prevent the start of AIDS.

Prevention

There are only two 100% effective means of avoiding STIs:

  • Not having sex or oral sex (abstinence)
  • Having only one, long-term sexual partner who does not have any STIs
  • Condoms can help reduce the transmission of STIs during sex. Condoms can also be used during oral and anal sex to prevent STIs.

Risk Factors

Here are some things that increase the chance of getting HIV.

  • Sharing needles or syringes.
  • Having vaginal, anal, or oral sex and not using a condom.
  • Having sex with someone who might have HIV.

Symptoms - Early HIV Infection

When a person first gets HIV there may be no symptoms at all. However, many people get a flu-like illness about 4-6 weeks after being infected with HIV. This early HIV infection is called the acute retroviral syndrome. Symptoms can include:

  • Feeling tired (fatigue)
  • Fevers
  • Headaches
  • Swollen lymph node

Symptoms - AIDS

AIDS is the last stage of HIV. People with AIDS have a very weak immune system. They cannot fight off infections as well as a normal person. Because of this people with AIDS get infections that are rare in normal people. These are called opportunistic infections and they are the reason for most symptoms.

  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling tired (fatigue)
  • Fevers
  • Headaches
  • Night sweats
  • Rashes
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

When to Call for HIV - STI

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • You had sex in the past 72 hours with someone who has HIV
  • You feel weak or very sick

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • You have HIV and have any of these:
    • Headache that is severe or lasts more than 3 days
    • Cough that lasts more than 3 days
    • Diarrhea that lasts more than 7 days
    • Night sweats
    • Weight loss more than 10 pounds (5 kg) and not on a diet
  • You think you need to be seen

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • You had sex with someone who has HIV and you get "flu"-like symptoms
  • You are worried you might have an STI
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • No symptoms
  • Questions about HIV

Care Advice

HIV

  1. What You Should Know:
    • HIV is a virus. It is the cause of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
    • There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. There are drugs that can help you to feel healthy for a long time.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. How Is It Spread?
    • HIV is spread through certain body fluids like vaginal fluids, semen, and blood. HIV can enter through the mouth, penis, vagina, and rectum. It can be spread by heterosexuals or homosexuals.
    • Saliva, tears, sweat, and urine do not spread HIV. There is no proof that you can get HIV from kissing.
    • HIV can be spread from a mother to her baby. This can happen during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.
    • It is also spread by sharing needles. This may happen during injection of street drugs.
    • All donated blood in the United States is screened for HIV. Receiving it is safe. HIV transmission is very rare through donated blood.
    • Latex condoms work well to prevent HIV from spreading during sex.
    • There are only two 100% effective means of avoiding STIs:
      • Not having sex or oral sex (abstinence)
      • Having only one, long-term sexual partner who does not have any STIs
    • Condoms can help reduce the transmission of STIs during sex. Condoms can also be used during oral and anal sex to prevent STIs.
  3. Symptoms:
    • Acute Retroviral Syndrome (early HIV infection): feeling tired (fatigue), fevers, headaches, swollen lymph nodes.
    • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS): cough, diarrhea, feeling tired (fatigue), fevers, headaches, night sweats, rashes, swollen lymph nodes, weakness, weight loss.
  4. How Long Does It Take for Symptoms to Appear after Exposure?
    • When a person first gets HIV there may be no symptoms at all.
    • However, many people get a flu-like illness about 4-6 weeks after being infected with HIV. This early HIV infection is called the acute retroviral syndrome.
  5. Testing:
    • HIV is tested with a blood sample. This test may be done without your name ever being known. It can also be done privately through your own doctor.
    • You can find testing sites by calling 1-800-342-AIDS. You should always share the test results with your doctor.
  6. Treatment:
    • There is no known cure for HIV.
    • There are medications that can slow the start of AIDS. They will keep you feeling healthy for a long time.
  7. Pregnancy Test, When in Doubt:
    • If there is a chance that you might be pregnant, use a urine pregnancy test.
    • You can buy a pregnancy test at the drugstore.
    • It works best first thing in the morning.
    • Follow all package instructions.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Pregnancy test is positive or you have trouble with the at-home test
    • You want to get an HIV test
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Hotlines and Internet Resources

  1. United States - STI Hotline:
    • American Social Health Association STI Hotline provides information on STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV/genital warts, herpes, and HIV/AIDS. It can provide referrals to local clinics.
    • Toll-free number (English): (800) 227-8922
    • Toll-free number (Spanish): (800) 344-7432
    • Their website is at: www.ashasexualhealth.org
  2. Internet Resources:

    • American Social Health Association: This website has answers to your questions about sexual health and STIs. It can be found at http://www.iwannaknow.org
    • STD Treatment Guidelines 2015, Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC): This can be found at STD Treatment Guidelines, 2015

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.


Last Reviewed: 10/23/2018 1:00:35 AM
Last Updated: 3/31/2018 1:00:52 AM

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