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HIV/AIDS FAQS
An important part of being ready to talk to young people about preventing HIV infection and AIDS is being able to answer question they may ask.

If someone asks you a question about HIV infection or AIDS and you do not know the answer, it's okay to say you don't know. Don't make up an answer- faking it often does more harm than good.

Treat a tough question as a chance to show the questioner how to get information about HIV and AIDS independently. You, or anyone else, can get accurate answers to difficult questions by calling your local AIDS hotline or the National AIDS Hotline (1-800-CDC-INFO). You do not have to give your name and the call is free.

To help you answer questions that might come up, here are some commonly asked questions with medically correct answers:
  • If somebody in my class at school has AIDS, am I likely to get it too?
    • No. HIV is transmitted by sexual intercourse, needle sharing, or infected blood. It can also be given by an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth, or very rarely, breast-feeding.
    • People infected with HIV cannot pass the virus to others through ordinary activities of young people in school.
    • You will not become infected with HIV just by attending school with someone who is infected or who has AIDS.

  • Can I become infected with HIV from kissing?
    • Not likely. HIV occasionally can be found in saliva, but in very low concentrations- so low that scientists believe it is virtually impossible to transmit infection by deep kissing.
    • The possibility exists that cuts or sores in the mouth may provide direct access for HIV to enter the bloodstream during prolonged deep kissing. Still, most scientists agree that it would take a great deal of saliva to transmit the virus that way.
    • There has never been a single case documented in which HIV was transmitted by kissing.
    • Scientists, however, cannot absolutely rule out the possibility of transmission during prolonged, deep kissing.

  • Can I become infected with HIV from oral intercourse?
    • It may be possible.
    • Oral intercourse often involves semen, vaginal secretions, or blood- fluids that contain HIV.
    • HIV is transmitted by the introduction of infected semen, vaginal secretions, or blood into another person's bloodstream.
    • During oral intercourse, the virus might be able to enter the bloodstream through tiny cuts or sores in the mouth.

  • As long as I use a condom during sexual intercourse, I won't get AIDS, right?
    • Far from being foolproof, condoms may break during intercourse.
    • Condoms have been shown to help prevent HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms in combination with a spermicide are the best preventive measure against the AIDS virus besides not having sex.
    • You have to use them properly. And you have to use them every time you have sex - vaginal, anal, and oral.
    • The only sure way to avoid infection through sex is to abstain from sexual intercourse, or engage in sexual intercourse only with someone who is not infected.
    • You can get HIV from any kind of sex if you do not use a condom.
    • Anal intercourse with an infected partner is one of the ways HIV has been most frequently transmitted.
    • Whether you are male or female, anal intercourse with an infected person is very risky.

  • If I have never used intravenous drugs and have had sexual intercourse only with a person of the opposite sex, could I have become infected with HIV?
    • Yes. HIV does not discriminate. You do not have to be homosexual or an intravenous drug user to become infected.
    • Both males and females can become infected and transmit the infection to another person through intercourse.
    • If a previous sexual partner was infected, you may be infected as well.

  • Is it possible to become infected with HIV by donating blood?
    • No. There is absolutely no risk of HIV infection from donating blood.
    • Blood donation centers use a new, sterile needle for each donation.

  • I had a blood transfusion three years ago. is it likely that I am infected with HIV?
    • It is highly unlikely. All donated blood has been tested for HIV infection since 1985.
    • Donors are asked if they have practiced behaviors that place them at increased risk for HIV. If they have they are directed not to donate blood.
    • Today the American blood supply is extremely safe.
    • Even though it is highly unlikely that you became infected with HIV from a transfusion three years ago, there is a extremely remote possibility that infected blood was used. If you are very concerned, you should see your doctor or seek counseling about getting and HIV antibody test. Call the National AIDS Hotline (1-800-CDC-INFO) or your local health department to find out about counseling and testing facilities in your area.

  • Can I become infected with HIV from a toilet seat or other objects I routinely use?
    • No. HIV does not live on toilet seats, or other everyday objects, even those on which body fluids may sometimes be found. Other examples of every day objects are doorknobs, phones, and drinking fountains.

  • Can I become infected with HIV from a mosquito or other insects?
    • You won't get AIDS from a mosquito bite. The AIDS virus does not live in a mosquito, and it is not transmitted through mosquito's salivary glands like other diseases such as malaria or yellow fever.
    • You won't get it from bed bugs, lice, flies, or other insects, either.

  • A friend of mine told me that as long as I am taking birth control pills, I will never get AIDS. Is this true?
    • Birth control pills do not protect against HIV.
    • Latex condoms are known to help prevent the transmission of HIV.
    • Use them properly every time you have sex.
    • Even if you are taking the pill, you should use a condom if you plan to have sex with someone whom you do not know to be uninfected.

  • I think I might have been infected two months ago when I had intercourse without a condom with someone I didn't know. Should I get an HIV test?
    • You should seek counseling about the need for HIV testing.

  • What do I do if I think I am infected with HIV?
    • Remember, you must have engaged in behaviors that place you at risk for HIV infection. Those behaviors include:
      • sharing needles with an infected person.
      • having sexual intercourse with an infected person.
    • If you are still concerned, you need to talk to someone about getting an HIV test that will determine if you are infected. That person might be a parent, doctor, or other health care provider, or someone who works at an AIDS counseling and testing center.
    • Call the National AIDS Hotline (1-800-CDC-INFO) to find out where you can go in your area to get counseling about an HIV test. You don't have to give your name, and the call is free. You can also call your State or local health department. The number is under "Health Department" in the Government section of your telephone book.
    • Your doctor may advise you to be counseled and tested if you have hemophilia or have received a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.

  • What is the proper way to use a condom?
    • You can decrease your chances of infection with AIDS or any other sexually transmitted disease if you follow this list of simple instructions:
      • Use a condom every time you have sex- anal, oral, vaginal
      • Use condoms made of latex rubber. Latex serves as a barrier to the virus. "Lambskin" or "natural membrane" condoms are not as good because of the pores in the material. Look for the word "latex" on the package.
      • As soon as the penis becomes erect, put the condom on it.
      • Leave a small space in the top of the condom to catch the semen, or use a condom with a reservoir tip. Remove any air that remains in the tip by gently pressing toward the base of the penis.
      • When you use a lubricant, check the label to make sure it is water-based. DO NOT use petroleum-based jelly, cold cream, baby oil, or other lubricants such as cooking shortening. These can weaken the condom and cause it to break.
      • If you feel the condom break while you are having sex, stop immediately and pull out. Do not continue until you have put on a new condom.
      • After climax (ejaculation), withdraw while the penis is still erect, holding on to the rim of the condom while pulling out so that it doesn't come off.
      • Never use a condom more than once.
      • Don't use a condom that is brittle or that has been stored near heat or in your wallet or glove compartment for a long time. check the package for date of expiration.
      • A condom can't do you any good if you don't have one when you need it.

  • I think that my son may be having sexual relations with other males. Is there any information in addition to the materials in the website that I need to know about before I talk to him about HIV and AIDS?
    • The information presented in this website is pertinent for all youth, regardless of their sexual orientation.
    • HIV does not discriminate. it is not who you are, but what you do that determines whether you can become infected with the virus.
    • A condom should be used when having any type of intercourse. However, condoms are not foolproof and may break.
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