Frequently Asked Questions

HIV-What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV enters the blood, multiplies, and attacks the immune system so your body cannot defend itself from disease.

What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is the last and most serious stage of HIV infection. With AIDS, the body’s immune system is too weak to defend against infections and cancer.

When does HIV become AIDS?
Without treatment, HIV infection usually leads to AIDS after 8 to 10 years. A T cell count of less than 200 or having certain diseases can also signify AIDS.

Do people with HIV look different?
No, they do not. You can’t tell if someone is infected with HIV by the way they look. The only way to be sure is by getting an HIV test.

What is the best way to lower my risks for getting HIV?
Practice your ABCs!

  • Abstinence (no sex)
  • Be loyal (to one uninfected sex partner)
  • Use condoms correctly and consistently

Did you know that:
The presence of certain sexually transmitted infections can increase your chances of getting HIV 3 to 5 times. – Every 9 and ½ minutes, someone in the U.S. becomes infected with HIV.

How have young people been affected by HIV?
HIV is an epidemic mostly of young people. About 34% of those 13-29 years old and 31% of those 30-39 years old make up the new HIV infections.

How are most men getting infected with HIV?
Men make up 75% of all HIV cases. Most men (64%) got infected through male to male sex. Drug injection is the second most common way (16%), then high risk male to female sexual contact (13%).

How are most women getting infected with HIV?
Women make up 25% of all HIV cases. Seven out of ten women with HIV got infected through sex with their male partner. About 1 out of 4 became infected through drug injections.

How can drug users lower their risk for infection?
(1) Avoid injecting drugs (2) Use sterile needles only once and don’t share needles. (3) Get treated for drug addiction. (4) Get tested for HIV at least once a year.

Can condoms really protect me from HIV?
Latex condoms with lubrication, when used consistently and correctly, is a smart and effective way to reduce HIV infection.

My partner won’t wear a condom. What should I do?
Empower and protect yourself by not participating in sexual activity. There are now male and female condoms. Be sure to wear one.

How can I get free condoms?
Free condoms can be found at most public health departments, health fairs, family planning clinics, student health centers, bars, and nightclubs.

Does the test for HIV hurt?
No, pain-free screening tests are now available. They can be done with a sample of fluid from your mouth (oral swab).

What is the rapid HIV test?
The rapid test is a screening test that can tell you if you might by positive. The rapid test provides results in 20 minutes.

Do I have to pay for the HIV test?
The testing is free at the public health departments listed in the Contact Us section of this website or go to to find a location nearest to you.The test is currently free via funding from CDC/ODH.

My last HIV test was negative. Do I need to take another one?
Yes, you should take one every year if:

  • You have been sexually active.
  • You have been having sex with different partners.
  • You are an injection drug user.

Why should I take the HIV test?
I feel fine! You shouldn’t depend on how you feel. Someone can look and feel healthy but still have HIV. If the test is positive, treatment can be started to make sure you stay healthy.

What if my HIV screening test is positive?
Another HIV test will be done to confirm the positive result. You will also be given support and specific information to show you how to stay healthy.

If my HIV test is negative, does it mean my partner is negative?
No. Your test only refers to you. If you are negative it doesn’t mean your partner is negative! HIV may not be transmitted each time you have sex. Ask your partner to get tested!

Why is there no vaccine for HIV?
HIV is a tricky virus. It quickly enters the body, multiplies, hides, and mutates from person to person –making it hard to develop a vaccine that works for everyone.

How do individuals get HIV?

  • Having oral, anal, or vaginal sex with someone infected.
  • Sharing needles or syringes with someone infected.
  • Being exposed to HIV as a baby during pregnancy, delivery, or through breastfeeding.

Is there a vaccine to protect me from HIV?
No. There is no vaccine that protects against HIV. Go to the nearest testing center if you think you may have been exposed to HIV.

Can I get HIV by touching someone who is infected?
HIV can’t live for long outside the body. It is not passed through day-today activities such as shaking hands or hugging. You can’t become infected from a toilet seat, drinking fountain, doorknob, or mosquitoes.

If HIV is not treated, what can happen?
The virus can multiply and cause AIDS after destroying the immune system. Treating HIV may delay the start of AIDS for many years. Don’t try to run away or ignore HIV! Start treatment early!

What are antiretroviral medications?
Antiretrovirals are medications used to control how fast the HIV multiplies and to slow the progression of HIV disease.

Any good news out there about HIV/AIDS?
Yes there is! *People with HIV are living longer and stronger lives with proper care. *Transmission to babies during pregnancy is less than 2% with proper treatment. * More people are getting tested for HIV.

I am only one person. What can I do to help prevent HIV?

  • Get informed
  • Get tested
  • Use condoms correctly and consistently
  • Share your knowledge about HIV

Disclaimer: *This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please seek the advice of a medical professional about any condition or symptom. TRAAG provides this information on an “As is” basis and disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied.