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What everyone should  know about HIV:

HIV Quiz – 

Before you read the article below… see how much you already know…

  1. What is the symbol for Wold AIDS Day, that you may see people wearing? 
  2. What do the letters HIV stand for?
  3. What is AIDS?
  4. How is HIV passed on?
  • Kissing?
  • Spitting?
  • Sneezing?
  • sharing needles
  • Coming in to contact with a discarded needle?
  • unprotected sex
  • pregnancy

5. What % of people living with HIV in the UK don’t know they are HIV+

6. How do you know if you have HIV?

Fact Sheet:


At one time you could get your red ribbon anywhere, they seemed to be on every shop counter – these days the red ribbons that help to mark World Aids Day seem to have disappeared from public consciousness…

Back in the day there were lots of myths and misunderstandings around HIV, unfortunately, unlike the red ribbons these seem to still be a huge part of public consciousness… So let’s clear things up.

HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. It stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is important to recognise that HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. HIV is the virus – there is currently no cure, but we do have very effective treatments these days that keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy. In the UK HIV has been declassified from terminal to a chronic illness. This is because a person who is living with HIV who is on treatment can live a full, active and healthy life. In fact a resent study has proven that if you are medication – there is 0% risk of passing on the virus to a partner. 

A person living with HIV is said to have AIDS when their immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off diseases it would normally cope with. 

If HIV is diagnosed early, and is treated most people with HIV will not develop AIDS, and if they do, with treatment they can recover (but they will still have HIV).

In 2013 only 0.3% of people with HIV developed AIDS.

HIV can be passed on in a number of ways, most commonly is through unprotected penetrative sex – either vaginal or anal. Sharing needles or drug injecting equipment or passed on from a HIV positive mother to their child, either through birth or through breast feeding. HIV can not be passed on through saliva, kissing, coughing or coming into contact with a discarded needle. 

Around about 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK and between 6000-7000 people are newly diagnosed each year. However around 25% of people living with HIV are unaware as they haven’t been tested. These are the people that are a risk.

If you have ever had unprotected sex – it is worth being tested. Often people will experience flu like symptoms when they are newly infected. This includes fever, sore throat. fatigue, diarrhoea, and loss of appetite. These symptoms will usually disappear after a couple of weeks. And a person will appear healthy for years before it is obvious they are ill.  

If you think you have been exposed to HIV, there is medication known as PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis)  which can be taken and may prevent the infection. However, in order for the medication to be affective it needs to be taken within 72 hours of exposure. This can be obtained by visiting your nearest sexual health clinic or from A&E. PEP has to be taken for a month and can have nasty side effects – so is definitely no substitute for using a condom!

To get a free confidential test, visit your local sexual health clinic or ask your GP. Or you can order a home test kit by visiting

Sadly HIV stigma still exists in society, mainly due to ignorance. But HIV shouldn’t stop someone from working, living an active life, having a relationships or children. 

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