What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. The immune system protects us and keeps us healthy by fighting off germs. When people have HIV, their bodies start losing the ability to fight off germs, and they get very sick. One part of the sickness that HIV causes is AIDS.
How do you get HIV?
Most people get HIV through having anal or vaginal sex without using condoms. It is possible to get HIV from oral sex (giving or getting head), but it is less likely to get it that way than to get it from unprotected anal or vaginal sex.
HIV can be spread through contact with blood, vaginal fluid, semen, pre-ejaculate (pre-cum), and breast milk. HIV can NOT be spread through things like kissing, sharing glasses, or hugging.
Who can get HIV?
Anyone who has unprotected sex or shares needles can get HIV. In the U.S. right now, HIV especially affects young people, people of color, transgender people and men who have sexual contact with other men (whether that contact is chosen or forced).
How do I know if I have HIV?
GET TESTED! GET USED TO IT. The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. You can get a rapid test for HIV and get your results in 20 minutes. If you do find out you have HIV, you can get on medicine sooner, stay healthier, and protect your future partners. If you find out you don't have it, you can have some peace of mind, think about how to protect yourself in the future, and share that information with future partners.
When you're ready to get tested, look at the sidebar of this page for some places to get tested in the Twin Cities.
How do you NOT get HIV?
HIV is preventable. Everyone can take steps to protect themselves. Some steps to think about are:
· -use condoms, especially for anal and vaginal sex
· -talk to partners about whether they have been tested
· -ask a partner to go with you to get tested
· -choose to have sexual contact that doesn't include trading body fluids, like making out, dry humping, or hand-genital contact (hand jobs or fingering)
· -using condoms or dental dams during oral sex makes your chance of getting HIV very low. If you are not going to use condoms, you are still less likely to get HIV from unprotected oral sex than from unprotected anal or vaginal sex.
· -never share needles--everyone should have their own. If you have to share, look here - Cleaning Your Works - for information on how to clean needles safely, or to get free clean needles, contact the Minnesota Aids Project at 800–248–AIDS or http://www.mnaidsproject.org/services/prevention-testing/syringe-exchange.php.
You can also call the AIDSLine at 612-373-AIDS or go to the website and chat with someone. The people there can help you answer any questions about HIV. Website for Minnesota AIDS Project HIV Basics
SafeZone Drop-In Center for Homeless Youth is located at 308 Prince Street in downtown St. Paul, near Farmers Market site.
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