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What is H.I.V.

H.I.V. is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, the disease kills the body’s white blood cells that fight disease, so your more likely to catch common viruses like the flu. People do not die from H.I.V. they die from common viruses.
How is the disease transmitted
H.I.V. is caught when a sufficient amount of H.I.V. has entered into the blood stream. Those bodily fluids that contain enough H.I.V. to transmit H.I.V. are:

  • Blood
  • Sperm and seminal fluid
  • Vaginal fluid, including menstrual fluids
  • Breast milk
  • Anal mucus

Other body fluids like saliva, sweat or urine do not contain enough of the virus to infect another people. Activities that it can be transmitted through are:
Unprotected sexual intercourse / anal sex
Oral sex (rarely occurs)
Sharing a sex toy
Sharing injection equipment
Blood transfusions
What should you do if think your at risk of H.I.V.
The H.I.V. test looks for antibodies to H.I.V., antibodies are made by the infected persons immune system in response to the presence of H.I.V.
The window period
When someone becomes infected with H.I.V. it takes 3 months for somebody’s immune system to produce enough antibodies to show up on a H.I.V. test this is called ‘the window period’.
If you take the test less than three months after an infection it might not give an accurate result, but you should still seek medical attention if you think you have been at risk of H.I.V.
Being diagnosed H.I.V. positive
In the past some people might find it easier not knowing if they have H.I.V., compared to the stress of living with being H.I.V. positive. Now treatment has improved, people are weighing up the stress of finding out against the stress of finding out later.
Where to get tested
GUM Clinic
New Cross Hospital,
Male: 01902695501
Female: 01902695500
Snow Hill Clinic
26A Snow Hill,
Telephone: 01902444444
Terrence Higgins Trust
242 – 244 Bond House,
THT Wolverhampton Tel: 01902711818
THT Birmingham Tel: 01216946442
for more information: http://www.tht.org.uk/

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