Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
What is HIV?
What is HIV? It's the virus that causes AIDS. This virus is not like other viruses because it attacks the immune system. Our immune system gives us the ability to fight off infections. HIV destroys a certain type of white blood cell (the CD4 cell) that is vital in our ability to fight disease.
What is AIDS?
Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome is what AIDS stand for. This is considered the final stage of the HIV infection. At this point, the immune system is weakened and the body has difficulty fighting off infections. It may take several years for someone who's infected with HIV to reach this stage, even without treatment. In order for a person to have AIDS, they must be clinically diagnosed by a physician.
How is HIV spread?
HIV is found (primarily) in blood, breast milk, semen, and vaginal fluid of someone who's been infected. So HIV is spread mainly through:
- Having unprotected sex (anal, vaginal, or oral) with an HIV infected person
- Sharing needles or syringes with an HIV infected person
- Fetal or Infant exposure to HIV before or during birth or breast feeding (breast milk)
Since HIV is a fragile virus, it doesn't live outside the body for long. It cannot be spread through daily activities such as kissing, shaking hands, using toilet seats, drinking glasses, or mosquito bites to name a few.
How do I prevent its spread?
There are several steps you can take to prevent the spread of HIV. Those steps are:
- Abstain from sex (anal, oral, or vaginal) until you are in a relationship that is mutually monogamous (only with each other) and you both know each other's HIV status.
- If you decide abstaining is not for you,use condoms to prevent HIV and other STD transmission, and get tested!
- Don't be afraid to talk to your partner(s) about HIV and encourage them to get tested if they have not.
If you are positive with HIV, use condoms with your partner to prevent spread of HIV or other STD's. If you are both positive it's important to use condoms to prevent infection of a different HIV strain and other STD's.
How do I get tested?
We provide free, anonymous HIV testing to students as well as anyone else in the community. The OraSure test is an oral HIV test that gives accurate results in about 2 weeks (rapid HIV testing has same-day results).
Appointments are required for regular testing. No appointment required for rapid testing. Stop by the Recreation and Wellness Office, located in the Student Wellness Complex, suite 1200 or call us at (904) 620-2998.
HIV testing has been postponed for the Fall 2020 semester. We plan to resume testing in the Spring.