The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), is transmitted by blood and body fluids.

Symptom Overview

HIV is the Human Immodeficiency Virus. It is the virus that causes AIDS. AIDS is the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is the result of HIV infection and is a late stage of HIV disease. Risk of HIV is increased by having another STD.

Symptoms of HIV/AIDS vary depending on the stage of infection. Many people experience flu-like symptoms within one to two months of being infected.
Possible early symptoms may include:

  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle soreness
  • Mouth or genital ulcers
  • Diarrhea


There are over 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. HIV is definitely NOT just a “gay” disease – about half of new infections are in straight people. At the end of 2011, there were 7,293 persons who have ever been diagnosed with HIV disease in the St. Louis metropolitan region.


HIV infection can happen due to:

  • Unprotected anal, vaginal, oral sex;
  • Sharing needles and syringes
  • Mother-to-Child transmission

HIV exposure happens in the presence of:

  • Blood
  • Semen (including pre-cum)
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Breast milk

HIV exposure does not happen by:

  • Kissing
  • Hugging
  • Mosquito bites
  • Sharing eating utensils
  • Casual contact


A blood test or saliva test is the only way to know if you are infected with HIV. Many tests can be performed quickly while you wait, and others take a few days to know the results. Newer-generation tests are more accurate and can detect infection earlier.


Modern anti-retroviral therapy (ART) significantly prolongs life and improves the quality
of life for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Treatment is individualized for each person, depending on their CD4 count, viral resistance patterns, and other factors.

Living with It

People living with HIV can live long healthy lives with treatment. Healthy living with HIV means committing to one’s health. Some steps include:

  • Reduce stress
  • Straight talk with healthcare providers.
  • Talking about HIV with sex partners.
  • Increase comfort with condoms.
  • Believe in the potential of healthy living with HIV.

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