HIV, AIDS, and Older People (cont.)
What Are the Symptoms of HIV/AIDS?
Many people have no symptoms when they first become
infected with HIV. It can take as little as a few weeks for minor, flu-like
symptoms to show up, or more than 10 years for more serious symptoms to appear.
Signs of HIV include headache, cough, diarrhea,
swollen glands, lack of energy, loss of appetite and weight loss, fevers and
sweats, repeated yeast infections, skin rashes, pelvic and abdominal cramps,
sores in the mouth or on certain parts of the body, or
short-term memory loss.
Getting Tested for HIV/AIDS
- It can take as long as 3 to 6 months after the
infection for the virus to show up in your blood.
- Your health care provider can test your blood for
HIV/AIDS. If you don't have a health care provider, check your local phone
book for the phone number of a hospital or health center where you can get a
list of test sites.
- Many health care providers who test for HIV also can
- In most states the tests are private, and you can choose to take the
test without giving your name.
You can now also test your blood at home. The "Home
Access Express HIV-1 Test System" is made by the Home Access Health Corporation.
You can buy it at the drug store. It is the only HIV home test system approved
by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and legally sold in the United States. Other HIV home test
systems and kits you might see on the Internet or in magazines or newspapers
have not been approved by FDA and may not always give correct results.
How Do People Get HIV and AIDS?
Anyone, at any age, can get HIV and AIDS. HIV usually comes from having
unprotected sex or sharing needles with an infected person, or through contact
with HIV-infected blood. No matter your age, you may be at risk if:
- You are sexually active and do not use a latex or polyurethane
condom. You can get HIV/AIDS from having
sex with someone who has HIV. The virus passes from the infected person to his
or her partner in blood, semen, and vaginal fluid. During sex, HIV can get
into your body through any opening, such as a tear or cut in the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, or
mouth. Latex condoms can help prevent an infected person from transferring the
HIV virus to you. (Natural condoms do not protect against HIV/AIDS as well as
the latex and polyurethane types.)
- You do not know your partner's drug and sexual history. What you don't know can hurt you. Even though it
may be hard to do, it's very important to ask your partner about his or her
sexual history and drug use. Here are some questions to ask: Has your partner
been tested for HIV/AIDS? Has he or she had a number of different sex
partners? Has your partner ever had unprotected sex with someone who has
shared needles? Has he or she injected drugs or shared needles with someone
else? Drug users are not the only people who might share needles. For example,
people with diabetes who inject insulin or draw blood to test glucose levels might
- You have had a blood transfusion or
operation in a developing country
at any time.
- You had a blood transfusion in the United States between 1978 and