What are HIV and AIDS?
People who test positive for HIV do not necessarily have AIDS. Many people are HIV+ but don't show symptoms of illness for years, if at all. People who do get AIDS can get very ill and die from infectious diseases and cancers that usually don't cause problems for other people. There is currently no cure for AIDS.
How many people have it?
From 1999 to 2003, AIDS incidence has leveled off in San Francisco. In contrast, rectal gonorrhea and syphilis rates have increased among men who have sex with men. These rises are paralleled by an overall increase in unprotected anal sex.
Why worry about HIV/AIDS?
AIDS shows up differently in every infected person. Some people die soon after getting infected, while others live fairly normal lives for many years after they are diagnosed with AIDS.
There are now treatments available that can slow down the replication of HIV in your body, along with any immune system damage. The treatment is called anti-retroviral therapy. However, there is currently no cure for AIDS.
What are the symptoms?
What is an HIV test like?
If you become infected with HIV, it usually takes between three weeks and two to three months for your immune system to produce antibodies to HIV. If you think you were exposed to HIV, you should get tested. During your visit, speak to your doctor about the possibility of taking post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP.
Newer tests can detect HIV antibodies in saliva, a scraping from inside the cheek, or urine. A rapid HIV test was approved by the FDA in November 2002. Rapid test results are available within a half an hour after a blood sample is taken. The home test kits on the market are designed to help you collect your own blood sample. The sample is then sent to a lab where it is tested for HIV.
Clinics and medical providers will offer either confidential or anonymous HIV testing services. Confidential antibody testing means that you and the health care provider know your results, which may be recorded in your medical file. The health care provider and any other staff in the clinic or office are bound by confidentiality not to disclose the results of your test to anyone without your permission. City Clinic provides free confidential HIV testing to people considered by clinicians to be at high-risk for HIV.
Anonymous testing means that your name is never associated with your test results. As of April 17, 2006, current California law requires all positive HIV tests to be reported to the local health department using a name-based method, unless you test at an anonymous site. City Clinic is a confidential testing site. When you test at a confidential site, or with a medical provider, your name and social security number will be sent to the health department. Anonymous sites do not have to report new cases of HIV. If you would like to test at an anonymous setting, your counselor or clinician can provide you with a list of anonymous testing sites in San Francisco. Currently, a person who gets either type of HIV test is asked to participate in pre- and post-test counseling.
When you come to City Clinic, you will have an opportunity to talk to your clinician and/or HIV test counselor about the benefits and risks of HIV testing, and choose the type of test that will best meet your needs.
How is HIV/AIDS treated?
What can I do if I have HIV/AIDS?
In order to avoid transmission of the virus to your sex partners, as well as to protect yourself from getting other bacterial and viral STDs, we advise discussing your HIV status with a prospective partner before having sex. Communication is one of the keys to keeping our community sexually healthy.
How do I avoid getting HIV/AIDS?
DR. K'S ADVICE
HIV testing and care for those who are eligible -- at City Clinic.