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HIV Prevention FAQs

Check out our FAQs below for answers to your most common questions. Want to learn more? Visit AIDS.gov for comprehensive HIV/AIDS information, resources, and more. Or submit your question to The Damien Center here.

Q: What does HIV mean?
A: Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Q: What does AIDS mean?
A: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

Q: What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
A: HIV is the virus that causes a person to develop AIDS. AIDS is a diagnosis given to individuals that are HIV positive when their immune system has weakened enough to make them vulnerable to life-threatening infections.

Q: How is HIV transmitted?
A: HIV is transmitted through body fluids. Blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk are the only four fluids that are able to transmit HIV from one person to another.

Q: What is an STI?
A: Sexually Transmitted Infection. These infections were previously known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), though STI is currently used.

Q: Do I have to have my blood drawn to be tested for HIV?
A: Not at all! Our testing center offers rapid-response, oral HIV testing services. However, some STI testing may require a blood sample.

Q: How long will it take to learn my test results?
A: Our rapid-response HIV test results are available within 20 minutes. Other STI testing results may take up to two weeks to process.

Q: How frequently should I be tested?
A: Testing frequency should be based on your level of risk. It may take up to 3 months after exposure to detect HIV antibodies. It is generally suggested that sexually active individuals get tested in six month intervals.

Q: What are the signs/symptoms of HIV?
A: There are no reliable signs or symptoms associated with HIV infection. Many people who test positive for the virus have no indication anything is wrong with their health.

Q: What if I have symptoms of another STI?
A: If you are exhibiting signs or symptoms (itching, burning, rash) of a STI or know you have a sexual partner that has tested positive for a STI, you should seek treatment with a medical provider. If you do not have a medical provider and need resources for treatment, our testing counselors can help connect you with those services.