HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system and weakens the body's natural way to fight infections.
Signs and symptoms:
Soon after being infected with HIV, some people feel as if they have the flu. They may have a fever, headache, tiredness and a rash. Others may not. Sometimes people start getting illnesses two to seven years after they first get infected. People with HIV can look or feel healthy. Many don't realise they have it because they don't feel or see anything wrong. If a person goes for a blood test to see whether they have the virus, sometimes it can take up to three months (after infection) for the virus to show up on the blood test.
You have anal or vaginal sex without a condom with someone who has HIV or you share needles, syringes or other injecting equipment. If you are HIV-positive and pregnant, there is a risk that the baby may also contract the infection.
What can happen:
Without treatment, after many years, a person who has HIV can't fight off some infections and cancers. This stage of HIV is called AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
Currently there is no cure for HIV. But the symptoms can be reduced and the virus can be slowed down by using medication. There are services for people with HIV that provide medical, social, emotional and other kinds of support. For more information about HIV and AIDS contact the WA AIDS Council on (08) 9482 0000 or email@example.com or go to www.waaids.com. For more services go to Find a Service.
- Always use condoms or dams and water-based lubricant.
- Make sure tattoo or body piercing equipment has been sterilised, and don't share other people's earrings or body jewellery.
- Don't inject drugs. If you do, always use new needles and syringes, and never share any injecting equipment.
- Don't share personal items such as razors or toothbrushes as they can carry traces of infected blood.
- There is currently no vaccine to prevent HIV & AIDS.