With treatment, a person with HIV can have a healthy life. HIV is a treatable disease.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Untreated, the virus can lead to acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV weakens your immune system, your body’s built-in defense against disease and illness.
The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. Knowing your status is important because it helps you to make healthy decisions to maintain your health and to prevent getting or transmitting HIV.
You can have HIV without knowing it. You may not look or feel sick for years, but you can still become ill in the future and can pass the virus on to other people, even when you do not feel ill.
Anyone can get HIV, no matter your age, your sex and your race or ethnic origin.
You can get or transmit HIV only through specific activities. Most commonly, people get or transmit HIV through unprotected sexual behaviors and by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs.
Only certain body fluids from a person who has HIV can transmit HIV. Blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk—these fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to occur. Mucous membranes are found inside the rectum, vagina, penis, and mouth.
Having another sexually transmitted infection (STI) can increase the risk of getting or transmitting HIV. If you have another STI, you are more likely to get or transmit HIV to others. The only way to know for sure if you have an STI is to get tested. If you are HIV-negative but have an STI, you are more likely to get HIV if you have unprotected sex with someone who has HIV.
Your risk for getting HIV is very high if you use needles or equipment (such as cookers, cotton, or water) after someone with HIV has used them. People who inject drugs can get HIV by sharing needles and other injection drug equipment. The needles and equipment may have someone else’s blood in them, and blood can transmit HIV. Likewise, you are at risk for getting hepatitis B and C if you share needles and drug equipment because these infections are also transmitted through blood.
Another reason people who inject drugs can get HIV (and other sexually transmitted infections) is that when people are high, they are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior.
How can HIV be passed on to others?
- By sharing of needles and drug injection equipment (including shared use of items such as cookers, water, cotton).
- By unprotected sexual behaviors during vaginal, oral or anal sex.
- By sharing needles or ink to get tattoos .
- By sharing improperly sterilized needles or jewelry for body piercing.
- By sharing improperly sterilized acupuncture needles
- To a fetus or baby during pregnancy and during breastfeeding.
If you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, get tested for HIV. If you are HIV positive, with appropriate treatment you can have a healthy baby.
Can I get HIV from casual contact? No.
- You cannot get HIV by hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets, sharing dishes or closed-mouth or “social” kissing with someone who is HIV-positive.
- HIV is not spread through saliva, tears, or sweat that is not mixed with the blood of an HIV-positive person.
- HIV is not spread by mosquitoes, ticks or other blood-sucking insects.
- HIV is not spread through the air.
How well do condoms work in preventing HIV?
Male and female condoms are highly effective when used properly. If you use them the right way every time you have sex, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV infection. But it’s important to educate yourself about how to use them the right way.
Condoms can also help prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) you can get through body fluids, like Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. However, they provide less protection against STIs spread through skin-to-skin contact, like human papillomavirus or HPV (genital warts), genital herpes, and syphilis.
How can I prevent HIV from drug use?
Stopping injection and other drug use can lower your chances of getting or transmitting HIV a lot. If you keep injecting drugs, use only sterile needles and equipment. Never share needles or drug equipment.
Getting Tested in Sunrise Health Region
If you or a family member would like to be tested please contact:
Your Family Physician or
Stop at any Sunrise Health Region emergency room weekdays between 8:30am - 4:00pm to request the HIV test.
Turning Point Program – Yorkton 306-786-0637
Local Public Health Office:
306-542-4295 ext 202
If you or a family member would like to access Mental Health and Addictions Services call: