If I test positive for HIV, what do I do?
Testing positive for HIV often leaves a person overwhelmed with questions and concerns. It is important to remember that HIV is a manageable disease that can be treated with HIV medicines. While HIV medicines cannot cure HIV, they can help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives.
The Kenyan Government is committed to providing free HIV treatment to all citizens. Visit your nearest government-run health facility for more details.
Can I get infected with HIV from mosquitoes?
No. From the start of the HIV epidemic there has been concern about HIV transmission of the virus by biting and bloodsucking insects, such as mosquitoes. However, there is no evidence of HIV transmission through mosquitoes or any other insects — even in areas where there are many cases of AIDS and large populations of mosquitoes. Lack of such outbreaks, despite intense efforts to detect them, supports the conclusion that HIV is not transmitted by insects.
Can I get HIV from casual contact (shaking hands, hugging, using a toilet, drinking from the same glass, or the sneezing and coughing of an infected person)?
No. HIV is not transmitted by day-to-day contact in the workplace, schools, or social settings. HIV is not transmitted through shaking hands, hugging, or a casual kiss. You cannot become infected from a toilet seat, a drinking fountain, a door handle, dishes, drinking glasses, food, or pets.
The three main ways in which HIV is transmitted are:
1) Through having sex with someone infected with HIV.
2) Through sharing needles and syringes with someone who has HIV.
3) Through exposure (in the case of infants) to HIV before or during birth, or through breast-feeding.
Should I be concerned about getting infected with HIV while playing sports?
There are no documented cases of HIV being transmitted during participation in sports. The very low risk of transmission during sports participation would involve sports with direct body contact in which bleeding might be expected to occur. If someone is bleeding, their participation in the sport should be interrupted until the wound stops bleeding and is both antiseptically cleaned and securely bandaged. There is no risk of HIV transmission through sports activities where bleeding does not occur.
Why is injecting drugs a risk for HIV?
At the start of every intravenous injection, blood is introduced into needles and syringes. HIV can be found in the blood of a person infected with the virus. The reuse of a blood-contaminated needle or syringe by another drug injector (sometimes called “direct syringe sharing”) carries a high risk of HIV transmission because infected blood can be injected directly into the bloodstream.
Is there a connection between HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases?
Yes. Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can increase a person’s risk of becoming infected with HIV, whether the STD causes open sores or breaks in the skin (e.g., syphilis, herpes, chancroid) or does not cause breaks in the skin (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea).
If the STD causes irritation of the skin, breaks or sores may make it easier for HIV to enter the body during sexual contact. Even when the STD causes no breaks or open sores, the infection can stimulate an immune response in the genital area that can make HIV transmission more likely. In addition, if an HIV-infected person also is infected with another STD, that person is three to five times more likely than other HIV-infected persons to transmit HIV through sexual contact.
Not having (abstaining from) sexual intercourse is the most effective way to avoid STDs, including HIV.
How effective are latex condoms in preventing HIV?
Latex condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV transmission when used consistently and correctly.
If I want to get tested, where do I go?
Free testing and counselling is available at ALL government-run health centres. Ask your doctor for details.
How is HIV passed from one person to another?
HIV transmission can occur when blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk from an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person. HIV can enter the body through a vein (e.g., injection drug use), the anus or rectum, the vagina, the penis, the mouth, other mucous membranes (e.g., eyes or inside of the nose), or cuts and sores. Intact, healthy skin is an excellent barrier against HIV and other viruses and bacteria.
These are the most common ways that HIV is transmitted from one person to another:
- by having sexual intercourse (anal, vaginal, or oral sex) with an HIV-infected person;
- by sharing needles or injection equipment with an injection drug user who is infected with HIV; and
- from HIV-infected women to babies before or during birth, or through breast-feeding after birth.
HIV also can be transmitted through transfusions of infected blood or blood clotting factors.
How long does it take for HIV to cause AIDS?
It is estimated that about half the people with HIV develop AIDS within 10 years after becoming infected. This time varies greatly from person to person and can depend on many factors, including a person’s health status and their health-related behaviours.
Today there are medical treatments that can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system. There are other treatments that can prevent or cure some of the illnesses associated with AIDS, though the treatments do not cure AIDS itself. As with other diseases, early detection offers more options for treatment and preventive health care
What is HIV? What is AIDs? What is the difference?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). This virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast-feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Most of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.
A positive HIV test result does not mean that a person has AIDS. Infection with HIV can weaken the immune system to the point that it has difficulty fighting off certain infections. These types of infections are known as ‘opportunistic’ infections because they take the opportunity a weakened immune system gives to cause illness. Many of the infections that cause problems or may be life-threatening for people with AIDS are usually controlled by a healthy immune system. The immune system of a person with AIDS is weakened to the point that medical intervention may be necessary to prevent or treat serious illness.
Today there are medical treatments that can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system. There are other treatments that can prevent or cure some of the illnesses associated with AIDS. As with other diseases, early detection offers more options for treatment and preventive care.