HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system.  The immune system is normally able to get rid of viruses, such as the common cold. HIV attacks the immune system itself, so the body can’t get rid of it and it is carried for life.

HIV is carried in blood and other bodily fluids including cum (semen).  You can get HIV through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids.

The most common ways of gay or bisexual men getting infected are through fucking or being fucked by an infected person without a condom . There is a smaller risk of getting HIV through sucking.  Although HIV is also present in saliva, it is in very small amounts and cannot be transmitted, so kissing is safe.

Because HIV damages the immune system, people with HIV have weakened immunity and are more likely to get other illnesses. The state of the immune system can be measured using a blood sample. The number of CD4 cells (blood cells in the immune system) in the sample shows how much damage has been done to the immune system by HIV. If the immune system is badly damaged, people with HIV may develop serious problems such as infections or cancers. They are then said to have AIDS.

There is still no cure for HIV or AIDS but there is very effective treatment for HIV, which controls the virus and helps people to live a normal life.  These drugs have to be taken for life and can have nasty side effects. They work best and have less side effects if they are started while the person is well. It is very important that treatment is started before the immune system is seriously damaged so being diagnosed with HIV sooner rather than later is best.  We know that in the UK 200 people die every year because they are diagnosed with HIV too late for effective treatment.  (AIDSMAP, www.aidsmap.com)  The only way to know if you have HIV or not is to take a test.

More information about HIV and Testing

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