The Basics About HIV:
HIV is a virus that weakens your body’s immune system, your body’s built in defense against disease.
HIV is most often spread through unprotected sexual intercourse (anal, vaginal), sharing needles and syringes, or from a mother to her baby.
Without treatment HIV can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
There is no cure for HIV, but there is treatment.
There is no vaccine to prevent HIV infection, but there are things you can do to avoid passing or getting HIV.
People can look and feel well, and still have HIV. You may not look or feel sick for years, but you can still pass the virus on to other people. To be sure whether or not you have the virus, an HIV antibody blood test is required.
What to be familiar with if you have HIV:
Being HIV positive is not a death sentence. Today, HIV can be managed and monitored. Most people with HIV can avoid getting AIDS and live a long life. The virus is comparable to the care for diabetes.
ART (Antiretroviral therapy) is the combination of several different medicines used to slow down the rate that HIV multiplies in the body.
Understanding the medical commitment: Staying on your daily dosage of ART, having regular 3 month visits to Southern Alberta Clinic (located in Calgary) or Northern Alberta Clinic (located in Edmonton), eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are all important to your health.
Disclosure: Because of current stigma and the laws surrounding HIV it is important to know when to disclose your status. If you have HIV, you have a legal duty to tell your sex partner(s) before having any kid of sex that poses a “realistic possibility of transmitting HIV.” People with HIV have been convicted of serious crimes for not telling their sex partners they have HIV. See the disclosure box below for more information.
Understanding the term undetectable. Taking ART medication reduces the amount of virus in your body. If your viral load is undetectable it means that the level of virus in the blood of a person with HIV is so low that it cannot be measured. An undetectable viral load is a highly effective way to prevent HIV. The risk of contracting HIV from sexual intercourse with someone who has an undetectable viral load is very low.