What do HIV and AIDS stand for?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is the virus that attacks the body's immune system and over time, people become less able to fight off illness and diseases. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome; AIDS is the last stage of HIV disease. Doctors make an AIDS diagnosis based on a set of symptoms and conditions identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
No. There is NO CURE OR VACCINE for HIV infection or AIDS. Research scientists in the US and other countries are actively working toward the development of a cure. To date, no one has ever been able to cure any virus known to mankind, however, there are medications to help treat HIV.
Everyone has an HIV status, but not everyone knows what it is. There are many options available for those living with HIV and the sooner you know your status, the more options you'll have open to you. If you or your partner have been at risk, we encourage you to consider testing.
You can get an accurate test reading as soon as four weeks after exposure, but it may take as long as three months after each risk exposure to know for sure if you do or don't have HIV. For some people, regular testing is part of their routine sexual health care.
Anonymous HIV testing is provided free of charge by the NYS Department of Health, NYC Department of Health, and by some county health departments. At anonymous test sites, it is not necessary to use a name or other identifying information. People are given a code number that they use to get the test results when they return. Anonymous testing is NOT recorded in a person's medical record and may NOT be used for attaining HIV-related treatment and services. People who test positive at one of the NYS's anonymous test sites can change their test results to a confidential one so that they can access HIV-related medical care and support services without waiting for a second test.
Confidential HIV testing is offered by many local health departments, community health centers, hospitals, family planning clinics, and private doctors. An individual's name is given to the tester and the test result is entered into the person's medical record. New York State law protects the confidentiality of all HIV-related information. At both anonymous and confidential testing sites, pre- and post-test counseling should be offered.
For both anonymous and confidential testing sites check the Alliance for Positive Health Testing Calendar or the Department of Health's website, or call: 1-800-541-AIDS
- 800 872-2777 (New York State HIV Counseling Hotline)
- 800 233-SIDA (Estado Nueva York-en Español)
- 800 369-2437 (TDD for the Deaf)
- 800 232-4636 (CDC National AIDS Hotline)
If you don't know, chances are you have NOT been tested. You need to give specific consent to be tested for HIV in New York State. The only exceptions to this rule in NYS are: federal prison inmates, individuals indicted and/or convicted of sexual assault (special circumstances may apply), people entering the military or Peace Corps, newborn babies, and mothers presenting in labor and delivery without an HIV test on record.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is spread by direct contact with infected body fluids, including blood, semen, rectal fluids, vaginal secretions and breast milk. This means that the HIV contained in one of these body fluids must get into the bloodstream by direct entry into a vein, a break in the skin, or through the mucous linings (such as the eyes, mouth, nose, vagina, rectum or penis). Other body fluids such as urine, saliva, vomit, etc. do not pose a risk unless visible blood is present. (See Risk Reduction below)
There are many ways to reduce your risk of contracting HIV. The basic rules dictate that you avoid swapping bodily fluids; blood, secretions (anal and vaginal), and semen. You should also avoid behaviors that make you more prone to take risks such as drug and alcohol use (especially using needles).
- PrEP is a new and emerging HIV prevention intervention in which high risk HIV-negative individuals take an antiretroviral (ARV) to reduce their individual risk of acquiring HIV.
- PrEP is one pill, once a day. There is currently one medication FDA approved for this purpose – Truvada. Truvada was approved for HIV treatment in 2004 and for prevention in 2012.
- PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool, and can be combined with condoms and other prevention methods to provide even greater protection than when used alone. People who use PrEP must commit to taking the drug daily and seeing their health care provider every 3 months for HIV testing and other follow-up
Some private physicians are not yet prescribing PrEP. The Alliance for Positive Health can help interested individuals find the information to make a decision, and navigate the systems including how to talk with their doctors about PrEP. For additional facts about PrEP, visit the Department of Health.
Alliance for Positive Health
The Alliance for Positive Health provides a continuum of direct services to people living with HIV/AIDS and their family members. We also offer care management to people with other chronic illnesses who are enrolled in Medicaid as well as prevention programs that offer effective, innovative solutions that make a significant impact on reducing new HIV infections. LEARN MORE