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Click here for additional HIV information.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The most common ways HIV can spread:
AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is caused by HIV and refers to the advanced stage of HIV infection. If you develop an AIDS-related illness, including infections called opportunistic infections, you are then diagnosed with AIDS. If you have HIV, but don’t have an illness associated with AIDS, you can still be diagnosed with AIDS based on blood test results (CD4+ cell count <200 cells/mm3).
There is no set time when HIV can become AIDS. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your treatment options for HIV.
Many people with HIV have no symptoms for years. You must be tested to know if you have HIV for sure.
Possible symptoms of HIV may include:
The symptoms of HIV are similar to the symptoms of many other illnesses. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
Many places provide testing for HIV, such as doctors’ offices, local health departments, hospitals, or locations set up specifically for HIV testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information line
The most common ways that HIV is passed from one person to another are:
No. HIV is not transmitted through day-to-day contact in the workplace, schools, or social settings. HIV is not spread through casual contact such as shaking hands, hugging, or casual kissing. Also, you can’t get HIV from drinking fountains, doorknobs, drinking glasses, dishes, toilet seats, or food.
Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) like herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, or chlamydia can increase a person’s risk of becoming infected with HIV, even if the STD does not cause breaks or open sores on the skin. Having an STD can make you more likely to get HIV during sexual contact with someone who has HIV. Also, if someone has HIV and another STD, they are more likely to transmit HIV through sexual contact than someone who just has HIV alone.
You can get HIV from body piercing or getting a tattoo if the tools have infected blood on them and have not been sterilized or disinfected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends thorough cleaning and sterilization of tools that penetrate skin, including those used during body piercing and tattooing. Or they should be used once and thrown away. If you are thinking about getting a tattoo or a body piercing, be sure to ask the staff about what they do to prevent spreading HIV.
No. It is no longer believed that you can get HIV from biting and bloodsucking insects like mosquitoes. Studies have shown no evidence that you can get HIV from mosquitoes or any other insects. Even in areas with many AIDS cases and many mosquitoes, no cases of people getting HIV from insects have been shown. When an insect bites you, it injects its own saliva and not its own blood or blood from another person. Even if a mosquito bites someone who has the virus, the insect doesn’t get HIV and cannot transmit HIV to the next human it bites.
According to the CDC, the blood supply in the United States is one of the world's safest. Almost every person who got HIV from a blood transfusion got it before 1985, when HIV testing of donated blood began. All donated blood has been screened for HIV-1 since March 1985 and for HIV-2 since June 1992. Blood and blood products that test positive for HIV are not used for transfusions. The chance of HIV infection through a blood transfusion is very low in the United States.
CD4+ cells are a kind of white blood cell—and are an important part of the immune system. When HIV infects the body, it attacks these cells, reducing their count as the virus multiplies. Fewer CD4+ cells means a weakened immune system. A person is more likely to get sick with a low CD4+ cell count. HIV therapy can help raise your CD4+ cell count by keeping the virus in check. This allows the CD4+ cells to recover and defend the body against infections.
A viral load test measures how much HIV is in a sample of your blood. Two important tests are:
Results from viral load tests are usually reported as copies of HIV per milliliter of blood.
ART stands for AntiRetroviral Therapy. It is a combination HIV therapy that usually contains at least three drugs from at least two classes.
ART combinations are effective because they slow HIV from multiplying at different stages in the process. HIV medicines help reduce the amount of HIV-1 in the blood. The amount of HIV in the blood is called viral load. Your doctor will prescribe HIV medicines that help get your viral load as low as possible. This is one of the goals of HIV therapy—keeping HIV under control so that your viral load remains low.
In some cases, your viral load can become so low that the viral load test cannot find HIV in the blood. This is called an undetectable viral load. This is a good sign because it shows that your treatment is working. But remember, an undetectable viral load does not mean that you are cured. The virus still exists at very low levels in your body, and you can still pass HIV on to others.
Talk to your healthcare provider about when to start HIV treatment. You and your healthcare provider can decide when you should begin taking medications to treat your HIV.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Guidelines, HIV-1 treatment is recommended for all adults and adolescents with HIV, regardless of CD4+ cell count.
Starting medication can be an important step in beginning to manage your HIV. Some of the things that are considered when deciding to start treatment are your readiness to start treatment and sickness that happens because of AIDS or other conditions.
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What is the most important information I should know about ATRIPLA?
Who should not take ATRIPLA?
You and your healthcare provider should decide if ATRIPLA is right for you. Do not take ATRIPLA if you are allergic to ATRIPLA or any of its ingredients.
What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking ATRIPLA?
Tell your healthcare provider if you:
What important information should I know about taking other medicines with ATRIPLA?
ATRIPLA may change the effect of other medicines, including the ones for HIV-1, and may cause serious side effects. Your healthcare provider may change your other medicines or change their doses.
MEDICINES YOU SHOULD NOT TAKE WITH ATRIPLA
These are not all the medicines that may cause problems if you take ATRIPLA. Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements you are taking or plan to take.
What are the possible side effects of ATRIPLA?
ATRIPLA may cause the following additional serious side effects:
Common side effects:
Other possible side effects:
This is not a complete list of side effects. Tell your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you notice any side effects while taking ATRIPLA.
You should take ATRIPLA once daily on an empty stomach. Taking ATRIPLA at bedtime may make some side effects less bothersome.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
What is the most important information I should know about ATRIPLA?