It has been over 30 years since HIV was first identified. If gone untreated HIV can develop AIDS. In the United States someone is infected with HIV every 9-½ minutes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime as part of their regular health care. People at high risk of getting the virus are advised to be tested as often as every 6 months.
In New Hampshire, 50% of people who are newly diagnosed with HIV infection develop AIDS within one year of their diagnosis. This means they have had the virus in their blood for a long time and did not know it. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people living with HIV in the U.S. are not aware they have it.
Know your status!
Ask your medical provider about HIV testing or contact the Division of Public Health Services, Infectious Disease Prevention, Investigation and Care Services Section for more information at (603) 271-4502.
What is HIV infection?
HIV infection means a person has been infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV damages the body's immune system, the system that fights infections. Without the immune system's protection, the body is defenseless against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. When a person’s immune system is seriously weakened that person most likely will develop Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the later stage of HIV infection.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV is transmitted through contact with blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk of an infected individual. HIV is spread by sexual contact with an infected person and by sharing needles or syringes with someone who is infected. Very rarely HIV is transmitted through transfusions of infected blood or blood clotting factors. Babies born to HIV-infected women may become infected before or during birth or through breastfeeding after birth.
Where can a person get tested for HIV and how much does it cost?
The Division of Public Health Services supports limited testing sites around the state. These sites may charge a small fee for the testing services. Clients receive confidential counseling, personalized education, HIV testing and referrals for medical and supportive services. Client confidentiality is assured at every site.
Who should be tested for HIV?
- All persons ages 13–64 should be tested for HIV once in their lifetime.
- All pregnant women during the course of each pregnancy.
- Persons at higher risk of getting the virus are advised to test more frequently, Those risk groups are:
- Men who have unprotected (without a condom) sex with other men.
- Persons who share needles or piercing equipment.
- Persons who have unprotected sex with several partners.
- Persons who have a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
- Persons who have unprotected sex with a person infected with HIV.
- Persons who have unprotected sex with a person whose HIV status they do not know.
- Persons who have been exposed to the blood, semen, vaginal secretions and/or breast milk of someone who may be infected with HIV.
What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV can be diagnosed using a laboratory test for antibodies. AIDS occurs when a person's immune system is weakened. AIDS is a later stage of HIV infection that is only diagnosed by a health care provider who can do additional laboratory tests and assess an individual's health.
How can the spread of HIV be prevented?
The only sure way to avoid becoming infected or infecting others is to not have sex and to not share needles (abstain from all high risk behaviors). If you choose to have sex or share needles for injection drugs, the following actions may reduce the risk of HIV infection.
- Persons who are sexually active can:
- Limit the number of partners and avoid sex with people whose sexual history is unknown.
- Use condoms properly from start to finish when having sex.
- Persons who inject drugs can:
- Not share needles or works with others.
- Use only clean needles and works.
- Purchase new sterile needles from pharmacies.
- Pregnant women who are infected with HIV can:
- Greatly reduce the risk of passing on HIV to their unborn child if they receive appropriate medical care and take specific HIV medications.
In addition to testing sites, the HIV Prevention Program and its community partners provide the following services:
- Prevention Education and Risk Reduction: These services target individuals and communities at risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV disease. Examples of target individuals include persons living with HIV and their partners, injection drug users, men who have sex with men, and at-risk communities of color. Prevention education focuses on maintaining and sustaining positive health behaviors.
- Partner Services (PS): These services offer assistance in notifying sex and/or needle-sharing partners of persons reported with HIV/AIDS infection. Health Department staff notify partners of possible risk exposure without disclosing the identity of the infected person. Partner Services provides access to a variety of services such as free voluntary and confidential counseling testing and referrals for medical care and support services.
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