FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It’s a virus that affects the immune system, specifically targeting T cells or CD4 cells, which fight infections.
When HIV destroys CD4 cells, the body can’t fend off diseases and infections.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, and it’s the late stage of an HIV infection. When most of the CD4 cells are destroyed and the body can’t fend off infections and diseases, a person is considered to have developed AIDS.
However, someone with HIV can live for many years without experiencing symptoms before developing AIDS.
There isn’t a vaccine against HIV, but the virus is treatable and preventable.
To minimize the risk of infection, take the following precautions:
- Always use a condom.
- If you use needles, ensure they’re new and sterile.
- Avoid sexual relations when you’ve consumed alcohol or drugs.
- Discuss your sexual history with your partner or partners.
- Get tested for other sexual infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication regimen intended to prevent HIV infection. If you take PrEP as prescribed by healthcare professionals, the risk of HIV is greatly reduced. This treatment isn’t available in all health services, so it’s not widely used by the general population.
The three main transmission routes for HIV are:
- Sexual contact: vaginal, anal, and oral penetration without a condom.
- Blood contact: sharing needles or sharp objects that aren’t sterilized.
- Perinatal route (from mother to child): during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
Body fluids like sweat, saliva, or tears don’t pose a risk for transmitting HIV. Therefore, actions like kissing, coughing, sneezing, insect bites, or hugs aren’t transmission risks.
Sharing everyday spaces like workplaces or schools isn’t risky either.
Many people with HIV experience no symptoms for up to 10 years or more.
However, when symptoms do occur, they can include:
- Flu-like symptoms.
- Fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or fever.
No. HIV can only be detected through specific tests. There’s nothing about someone’s appearance that indicates whether they have the virus.
No. HIV is the virus that might enter your body, whereas AIDS is a severe condition caused by that virus, where your immune system is severely weakened, and you become more susceptible to illnesses.
The goal of treatment is to prevent those with HIV from developing AIDS.
ABOUT HIV TESTING
Knowing your HIV status is the best way to protect your health and that of your partner(s).
If you have HIV, early diagnosis allows you to start treatment, increasing your chances of living a long and healthy life.
At any Public Health Center or public hospital. You can also get tested at AHF Centers and their allies, where the service is free, easy, fast, and without prejudice.
It can take between 1 to 20 minutes, depending on the test type. There are two options:
- Some use a drop of blood (like those used by AHF). The result takes 20 minutes.
- Others use saliva collected with a swab from the inside of your cheek.
Both test types are considered rapid tests, and you’ll receive your result in the same session.
Nothing. It’s free in public health services and at AHF services.
At AHF, we have trained and certified HIV test counselors.
We only collect the minimum necessary information to comply with regulations and help us design better health programs for those we serve.
Additionally, we guarantee that your information is confidential and protected by current data protection laws.
The answer is simple: today.
Remember, HIV is treatable, and today’s treatments are highly effective.
If your result is positive, our counseling team will guide you through the next steps, such as finding care and starting your treatment.
ABOUT THE RESULT
No. Taking antiretroviral treatment allows you to control the virus and live a long and healthy life. It’s essential to receive complete and specialized medical care for this.
Antiretrovirals are medications that prevent HIV from multiplying in the body. This way, they allow your immune system to recover and stay healthy.
As soon as you receive a positive result. This should be done under the supervision of qualified medical personnel.
Before taking any medication, consult with your medical team to ensure it doesn’t interfere with your antiretroviral treatment.
No. Antiretrovirals must be taken for life and periodically supervised by trained healthcare personnel. Discontinuing the treatment can cause the medications to become ineffective, and HIV might start multiplying again.