AIDS And Women

Frequently Asked Questions: AIDS And Women

Here are some frequently asked questions related to AIDS And Women.

Q: What if I’m attracted to someone I don’t really know? What should I do?

A: Know the sexual history and health status of partners. Avoid anonymous sexual contact and learn about safe sex practices, such as the use of condoms.

Q: Are my children going to get AIDS if I have it?

A: Research indicates that HIV is NOT transmitted by casual contact, such as touching or hugging; sharing household items such as utensils, towels, and bedding; contact with sweat or tears; sharing facilities such as swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, or toilets with HIV-infected people; and coughs or sneezes. HIV transmission requires intimate contact with infected blood or body fluids (vaginal secretions, semen, pre-ejaculation fluid, and breast milk). Activities that don’t involve the possibility of such contact are regarded as posing no risk of infection.

Q: Is an AIDS test required of new job applicants and/or employees?

A: Probably not. In fact, under most state laws, employers cannot ask whether applicants or employees have AIDS – only if they can do the job.

Q: Should I avoid sharing personal hygiene items, like razors or toothbrushes?

A: Yes. These devices might be contaminated with blood. However, this is an unlikely mode of transmission for the AIDS virus.

Q: Does everyone who has AIDS die from it?

A: When scientists first recognized AIDS in 1981, most people died within a year or two. Now, with numerous drugs available to help suppress HIV’s attack on the immune system and prevent or treat AIDS-related opportunistic illnesses, many people with AIDS are living longer and healthier lives. However, AIDS still is considered a fatal illness. Few people survive five years from the time they are diagnosed with AIDS, although this is increasing with improvements in treatment techniques.

Q: How can a person tell if she is infected with HIV?

A: A blood test can determine whether or not a person is infected with HIV. The most commonly used test detects antibodies (disease-fighting proteins) against HIV. It may take as long as three to six months for HIV antibodies to reach levels that are measurable in standard blood tests.

Q: Can I keep my test results private?

A: People can have the procedure done at HIV testing centers that offer anonymous HIV testing.

Q: Can HIV be spread through kissing?

A: Although studies have found tiny amounts of HIV in the saliva of some people with HIV, researchers have found no evidence that HIV is spread to other people through kissing. However, the CDC recommends against “French” or open-mouthed kissing because of the possibility of contact with blood if the people kissing have any cuts or sores in the mouth.

Q: Can HIV be transmitted during oral sex?

A: Although the risk of infection during oral sex is considered lower than during vaginal or anal intercourse, HIV may be transmitted during oral sex through contact with vaginal secretions, semen, pre-ejaculation fluid, and blood.

Q: Is a home test kit for HIV available?

A: No approved HIV test kit will give you a result at home. There is a kit available that is designed for you to collect a sample of your blood at home. Then you send the sample to a laboratory where it is tested for HIV.

Q: How likely is an HIV-positive woman to infect her baby?

A: Approximately one-quarter to one-third of all untreated pregnant women infected with HIV will pass the infection to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth. But this risk is significantly reduced if the mother is treated with AZT (during pregnancy, labor, and delivery) and her baby receives AZT during the first six weeks of life.

Q: Can HIV be transmitted in breast milk?

A: HIV can be transmitted from a nursing mother to her infant through breast milk. Women who live in countries where safe alternatives to breast-feeding are readily available and affordable can eliminate the risk of transmitting the virus through breast milk by bottle-feeding their babies. In developing countries, however, where such safe alternatives are not readily available or economically feasible, breast-feeding may offer benefits that outweigh the risk of HIV transmission.

Q: How effective are latex condoms in preventing HIV?

A: Health authorities say that latex condoms are highly effective when used consistently and correctly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using latex condoms (or dental dams) whenever having oral, anal, or vaginal sex. If a lubricant is used, it should be a water-based lubricant.


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