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HIV or Human immunodeficiency Virus is a sexually transmitted virus believed by most experts to be the primary cause of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), which can be fatal. HIV is passed from one person to another by semen, breast milk, vaginal fluids and blood. Most people get HIV through sexual activity, contaminated needles (IV drug users), or transfusions (although this has rapidly decreased because of testing blood).

HIV can be a serious health risk, especially if it develops into AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Currently there is no vaccine for HIV or a cure for AIDS, but the development of anti-viral drugs have greatly decreased the symptoms

Some people do not get any symptoms of HIV. Some of the symptoms of HIV might include:
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Low grade fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Dry Cough
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Red, pink, purple or brownish blotches in or on the skin
  • White patches or lesions in the mouth
  • Pneumonia
  • Chronic vaginal yeast
  • Confusion, memory loss & depression
If you have these symptoms-or some of them- and are sexually active, you should be tested for HIV, and possibly other sexually transmitted infections (STI’s).  It is a good idea to get tested for STI’s if you don’t know your partners sexual history (even if you don’t have symptoms). Most people do not have symptoms of STI’s, and this can include HIV. Many treatments are available to control HIV, so the earlier you are tested the better.

Safer Sex Practices
Safer sex involves engaging in practices that reduces the chances of spreading HIV/Aids. This might involve new couples not having sex until both partners have been tested for HIV, and depending upon their sexual history, waiting until 6 months and check for HIV again.

When people are unaware of their HIV status, it is advisable to practice safer sex as if they were positive for HIV. People who have tested positive for HIV and want sexual involvement, condoms should be used every sexual episode.

Condoms are the only way to block the virus from being spread from one person to another. Condoms also prevent the spread of some STI’s.

At WHS we do HIV testing, give clients information, and give them referrals if necessary. There are several web sites that are good resources:
Averting HIV and AIDs

Lesbian Health Resource Center 
Center for Positive Sexuality
Society for Human Sexuality
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource