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What is HIV?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

What are the signs and symptoms?

Many people have no symptoms, but those who do can have:

  • Mild flu-like symptoms (fever and chills)

How is it spread?

HIV is spread by coming in contact with infected blood, semen, pre-ejaculate, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. It can be spread through:

  • Unprotected sex (vaginal, oral, or anal).
  • Shared needles or drug equipment used for injection or snorting drugs.
  • Reused tattoo ink or unsterilized needles or equipment used for tattooing, skin piercings, or acupuncture.
  • Pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding from an HIV-infected mother to her infant.
  • Needle stick and other exposures in health care settings.

How is it prevented?

HIV can be prevented by:

  • Abstaining from sexual activities.
  • Both you and your partner being tested at the beginning of your relationship.
  • Using condoms every time you have sex.
  • Never sharing any drug equipment.
  • Making sure all equipment is not contaminated (sterile needles and new ink for each person) and the shop is licensed and inspected by our Health Inspectors before you get a tattoo, body piercing, or acupuncture.
  • Talking with your doctor about being tested if you’re pregnant. Early treatment can prevent passing HIV from mother to baby before birth.

Where can I be tested?