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Women's Health Keeping It Real - HIV/AIDS Brochure

What is the difference?
Who are affected in North Carolina?
Who are at greater risk?

Ways HIV is NOT transmitted
What women should know (prevention and testing,
pregnancy and HIV, NC testing law)

Reducing your risk
Questions women should ask their partners
HIV testing (benefits, testing locations, reporting of results)
Treatment and care
Resources and Testing Information

Webisodes - HIV and AIDS Prevention Awareness

What is the Difference

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that damages the immune system. The immune system helps the body fight infection and disease. When the immune system is damaged, it becomes weaker and weaker. At some point, HIV can turn into AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

When people develop AIDS, they often get other diseases and infections that are harder to cure. People with HIV can stay healthy for a very long time if they get medical care in the early stages.

Who Are Affected in North Carolina?

  • HIV is distributed unevenly among people in North Carolina.
  • HIV infection for non-Hispanic blacks is more than seven times greater than for whites.
  • The rate for Hispanics is three and half times that for whites.
  • The largest disparity it found when comparing white and black females. The HIV infection rate for black females is 16 times higher than that for white females?

Who are at Greater Risk?

To become infected with HIV, infected blood, semen or vaginal secretions must enter the body. Anyone of any age, race, sex or sexual orientation can get HIV, but you are at greatest risk of HIV/AIDS if you:

  • Have unprotected sex. This means having sex without using a new latex or polyurethane condom every time. Your risk increases with the number of partners you have.
  • Have unprotected sex with someone who has HIV.
  • Have another sexually transmitted infection, such as syphilis, herpes, Chlamydia, gonorrhea or bacterial vaginosis.
  • Share needles for injecting drugs, steroids or getting tattoos.

Newborns or nursing infants whose mothers tested positive for HIV but did not receive treatment also are at high risk.

Ways HIV is NOT Transmitted

You cannot become infected through ordinary contact — hugging, kissing, dancing or shaking hands — with someone who has HIV or AIDS. Some people fear that HIV might be transmitted in other ways but no scientific evidence supports any of these fears.

What Women Should Know about HIV

HIV can be prevented.

  • If you are not ready to be responsible and have safe sex, then don't have any sex. If you have sex, use a condom for all types of sex, even oral sex.
  • Know your partner's sexual history. It is your right to know. If you have more than one sex partner, you are at greater risk of getting HIV.
  • Don't ever share needles.

HIV can be treated, but not cured. Get tested.

  • When you get tested for HIV, someone will talk to you about the test results.
  • If you test positive (have the virus), talk to your healthcare provider as soon as possible about the best treatment for you.
  • If you are pregnant, or thinking about getting pregnant, get tested for HIV. If you have HIV and are pregnant, you could pass it to your baby during pregnancy, labor or delivery and later when you breastfeed. Passing HIV to your baby can be prevented.
  • You should get tested once a year for HIV if you or your partner:
    • Had more than one sex partner since your last HIV test.
    • Share needles to shoot (inject) drugs or steroids or get a tattoo.
    • Think you COULD have had sex with a person infected with HIV.

If you get tested and the results are negative, talk to your healthcare provider about when you should be tested again.

Pregnancy and HIV

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that all pregnant women be tested for HIV as part of their normal prenatal care. HIV can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy, labor or breastfeeding.

Testing in pregnancy allows for the mother's infection to be identified and treated. Treatment during pregnancy will help reduce the risk that she will pass the virus on to her baby. Treatment is most effective for babies when started as early as possible during pregnancy. With treatment, fewer than 2 out of 100 babies born to women who have HIV will be infected. Without treatment, about 25 out of 100 babies will be infected. If a new mother takes no preventive drugs and breastfeeds, then the chance of her baby becoming infected is around 20-45%.

North Carolina Testing Law

In North Carolina, if you are pregnant, you will be tested for HIV. This reduces the chance that a baby will get HIV if his/her mother is infected.

  • You will be tested for HIV at one of your prenatal checkups unless you refuse.
  • You will be tested at delivery if you were not tested during pregnancy.
  • Your baby will be tested when he or she is born, before you leave the hospital, even if you say no to the test yourself.

Reducing Your Risk:

Eliminate or reduce your risk of getting HIV during sex.

  • Abstain from sex (don't have sex) or delay first sex.
  • Be faithful for one partner or have fewer partners.
  • Use male or female condoms correctly every time you have sex.

Eliminate or reduce the risk of getting HIV from needles.

  • Don't inject drugs. If you are using, get counseling to overcome the addiction.
  • Don't share needles.
  • Participate in a needle exchange program, if available.

Eliminate or reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

  • Prevent unplanned pregnancies.
  • Get tested for HIV before getting pregnant or early in the pregnancy.
  • Get treated if you test positive for HIV and talk to your healthcare provider about ways to reduce your baby's risks.
  • Choose not to breastfeed.

Questions Women Should Ask Their Partners

  • Do you always use condoms when you have sex?
  • Have you had any other sexual partners?
  • Have you ever used or shared needles for shooting (injecting) drugs, steroids or getting tattoos?
  • Have you ever been tested for HIV? Are you HIV positive?

You can't look at someone and tell if they have HIV. Many people with HIV look very healthy and might not know that they have HIV. The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested for HIV. It is time for you to take control. Talk to your partner! Ask questions and get answers.

HIV Testing

Benefits of Being Tested

People consider counseling and testing for several reasons. Testing can help you:

  • Know whether you have HIV and need to seek medical care to prevent or delay life-threatening illness.
  • Work with your doctor to get appropriate care and know what to expect in the future.
  • Protect your sexual partner(s) from infection and illness if you are HIV positive. If they are not infected, you can avoid infecting them by having protected sex.
  • Assess the safety of having a child.
  • Identify if you are not infected so you can take action to ensure you don't become infected in the future.

Testing Locations

Many places offer HIV testing. Locations include local health departments, clinics, your private doctors' office, hospitals, some community based agencies and other sites set up specifically to provide HIV testing.

To find a HIV testing site in North Carolina, go to your local health department. Find your Opens in new window local county health department.

For other locations, visit the Opens in new window National HIV Testing Resources Web Site or call CDC-INFO: 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636), 1-888-232-6348 (TTY). Services available 24 hours a day in English and Spanish.

Reporting Your Test Results

Ask your testing counselor how your test results will be protected. Most counseling and testing centers follow one of two policies:

Confidential testing
Your name is recorded with the test result. The testing center does not share your record with anyone except medical personnel, or in some states, the state health department. Ask who will know your test result and how the information will be stored. If your HIV test is done confidentially, you can sign a release form to have the result sent to your doctor.

Anonymous testing
Some sites will not ask your name and you are not required to give it. You will have to follow-up to get your test result since the testing site will not be able to contact you. You will be the only one who can tell anyone else your result.

Treatment and Care

While currently there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, people living with HIV can benefit from available medicine and other services that are effective. HIV is not managed as a chronic, long-term disease for many people.

Successful treatment requires that people living with HIV/AIDS work with their healthcare provider to make treatment decisions that are right for them. Maintaining a healthy immune system by taking medicine as directed and having a healthy diet and lifestyle may help individuals resist other infections and health complications that can occur in people living with HIV/AIDS.

Persons living with HIV/AIDS who are abusing drugs should actively seek treatment. Addressing mental health issues is also important for long-term treatment and care of individuals living with HIV/AIDS. It is important that a person living with HIV/AIDS treat their whole body and spirit, not just the virus.



Opens in new window National HIV and STD Testing Resources Web Site

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
TTY: 1-888-232-6348

AIDSinfo - a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
1-877-696-6775 or 1-800-448-0440

AIDS Education and Training Centers National Resource Center

Other Links

North Carolina

Opens in new window North Carolina HIV/ STD Prevention and Care Branch

Opens in new window Alliance of AIDS Service - Carolina

Opens in new window Triad Health Project


Opens in new window The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Opens in new window United States Government HIV/ AIDS Information

Opens in new window Black AIDS Institute

Opens in new window Latino Commission on AIDS

Opens in new window The Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative

For more health information, search MedlinePlus

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Last updated: August 2014

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