What Every Sexually Active Adult Should Know About HIV

Did you know that about 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV? Of those, about 14% aren’t even aware they have the condition and need to get tested. Despite what people may think, HIV is not a death sentence, and you actually can live a long and healthy life if you have the condition treated early on.

Detecting HIV early is key to treating it and to helping you continue to enjoy your life. At the Family Healthcare of Atlanta, in Atlanta, Georgia, Mark Tanner, MD, and our compassionate team are here to provide you with the latest in medical care. That’s why we’ve compiled this helpful guide on what every sexually active adult should know about HIV.

What is HIV?

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that either spreads through sexual contact or intravenous (IV) drug use. You get the virus by exchanging bodily fluids, like semen, blood, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, or the breast milk of someone who has HIV.

HIV works by attacking and slowly destroying your immune system. It eventually makes it harder for your body to fight off infection and disease. HIV is different from AIDS, which is the most advanced stage of the illness. Over time, HIV can progress to become AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. 

The importance of getting tested 

Not everyone with HIV will develop AIDS, and starting treatment as soon as possible helps to prevent the illness. But that’s why early detection is so important and why you may want to make regular testing for HIV a priority.

Getting tested for HIV is important for anyone who’s a sexually active adult. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested at least once as part of routine healthcare.   

Common myths about HIV dispelled

Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about HIV. For one thing, you can’t get HIV from casual contact, like hugging, shaking hands, or even kissing someone. While the fluids we covered earlier do transmit HIV, other bodily fluids like saliva, sweat, and tears, don’t transmit HIV. Additionally, the HIV virus cannot survive outside of the body. 

HIV also does not lead to infertility. You can still have children if one or both partners are HIV positive. However, there is a concern about a woman passing on the virus to her child. But there are medical interventions that can prevent this from happening. Talk with us and we can discuss these options with you further. 

Finally, HIV is not a death sentence. While there is no cure, you can still live a full life, and stop the disease from progressing, with early intervention and proper medical care. You can also prevent your partner from contracting HIV with antiviral therapy, one of the treatments we offer. 

Antiviral therapy reduces your risk of transmitting HIV to your partner, by reducing the viral load in your bloodstream. You can also prevent your partner from catching the disease, if you’re HIV positive, by using a condom correctly.   

To learn more about HIV, early testing, and treatment options, contact our Atlanta, Georgia, office at (404) 355-2000 or schedule an appointment online.

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