What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. This virus is unique in that once it is in the body, it never goes away, unlike the common cold or flu virus that stays in the body only for a few days. A person becomes HIV positive when they are infected with HIV. Once a person is HIV positive, that person will always be HIV positive. Over a period of time, HIV infects and kills white blood cells called CD4 lymphocytes or ‘T-Cells’ and can leave the body’s immune system helpless in fighting off
certain kinds of infections and cancers. When the number of CD4 cells in a HIV positive individual drops below 200, or that individual becomes sick from opportunistic infections such as PCP (a type of pneumonia), that person is diagnosed with AIDS.
What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and is caused by HIV. In other words, you will eventually develop AIDS once you have HIV. The length of time from being diagnosed with HIV to having AIDS may vary depending on the individual and if that individual is treating their HIV with medication.
Someone is diagnosed with AIDS if they are HIV positive and has a CD4 cell count below 200, or if someone who is HIV positive has at least one opportunistic infection like thrush (candidiasis) or pulmonary tuberculosis. There are over 20 different diseases classified as opportunistic infection.
If you are unsure of your HIV status and have a current Herpes Simplex Virus infection, Human Papillomavirus Infection, shingles or thrush of the throat, lungs, or vagina, recurrent yeast infections, or a recurring case of pelvic inflammatory disease, it is highly recommended you get tested for HIV. For more information on getting tested please click here.
How is HIV spread?
The most common ways HIV is transmitted are:
- Semen, pre-cum, and vaginal fluids while having unprotected sex, especially if you have a sexually transmitted disease.
- Blood to blood exposure from sharing needles and equipment.
- From a HIV positive mother to her newborn during delivery or while breastfeeding.
Do many people have HIV/AIDS?
It is estimated that 42 million people around the world are living with HIV/AIDS. Approximately 40,000 new infections occur in the United States each year.
How many people in Hawaii have HIV/AIDS?
It is estimated that there are between 2,600 and 2,900 people living with HIV/AIDS in Hawaii today, many of whom are unaware of their HIV status. (Source: Hawaii State Department of Health).
Check out the following links to learn more about HIV and AIDS.
Want to get tested?
Rapid Testing is now available! All persons who wish to be tested can received their results in 15 minutes.
Hawai’i Health & Harm Reduction Center
677 Ala Moana Blvd. Suite 226
Honolulu, HI 96813
Tel: (808) 521-2437
Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30AM–12:30PM,1:00PM–5:00PM
Testing Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00AM–12:30PM, 1:00PM–4:00PM
Click here to be directed to the HHHRC website.