About HIV

Finding out you have HIV can be a shock. It’s likely you will have a lot of questions and you may be dealing with difficult feelings.

Remember that an HIV diagnosis doesn’t have to stop you living a full and healthy life. With the right treatment and care, you can expect to live just as long as someone who doesn’t have HIV.

What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a sexually transmitted virus that weakens the body’s defence system (immune system) and leads to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is a term that is used to describe the latter stages of HIV when the immune system has stopped working and a person develops a life-threatening condition, such as pneumonia .

You can’t get HIV through kissing, touching, hugging, shaking hands, sharing crockery and cutlery, coughing or sneezing, contact with toilet seats, insect or animal bites or by eating food prepared by someone with HIV.

What are the symptoms?
Some people with HIV may appear to be well and healthy for many years and have no symptoms. It’s possible that you will encounter flu-like symptoms when you are first infected. This is primary HIV infection or the seroconversion illness. Symptoms include:

* tiredness
*high temperature
*muscle pain/ache
*skin rash
*sore throat
*swollen glands

How can I get tested?

Free and confidential HIV testing is also available at many centres across the region. (See our Useful Links)

Is there any treatment?
As yet there is no cure for HIV, but there are very effective medicines which can help to control the symptoms of HIV.