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California State University, Long Beach
Health Resource Center, Student Health Services
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HIV / AIDS Information

HIV Testing

FREE HIV testing and counseling is available at the Health Resource Center.

HIV stands for:

H = Human (only infects humans)
I = Immunodeficiency (causes the immune system to collapse)
V = Virus (a germ that gets into the body and has no cure)

The HIV virus can enter the body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum or mouth during unprotected sex. HIV is not a disease that selects certain individuals with certain characteristics, but it is a disease whose victims are those that engage in particular behaviors.

AIDS stands for:

A = Acquired (not genetic, passed from one person to another)
I = Immune (affects the immune system)
D = Deficiency (the body is not able to protect itself from infection)
S = Syndrome (a collection of different symptoms or diseases)

HIV Transmission

HIV is only transmitted by four body fluids:

  • Blood
  • Semen and Pre-Ejaculatory Fluid
  • Vaginal Secretions
  • Breast Milk

 

HIV Risks

Transmission can only occur by having direct contact with one or more of these fluids in such a way that causes them to enter directly into your bloodstream. Anytime you have direct contact with these risk fluids, you risk being exposed to HIV.

Risky activities include:

  • Unprotected sex (including anal, vaginal and oral)
  • Sharing needles or syringes for drug use, piercing, tattooing, etc.
  • Getting blood from someone else into your body through blood play, fighting, etc.

HIV Prevention & Risk Reduction

  • Practice abstinence (this means no sexual activities)
  • Talk to your partner about their personal history (sexual, drug use, etc.)
  • Reduce number of sex partners
  • Always use a condom with all sex partners from beginning to end for all sexual activities every time you have sex.
  • For oral sex, use protection that can include condoms, latex barriers (such as Sheer Glyde Dam) or plastic food wrap. Do not reuse these items.
  • Only use water-based lubricants.
  • Do not use petroleum-based jelly, lotions, baby oil, or other oils because they can wear down a condom, causing it to break.
  • Do not share personal sex toys.
  • Do not share razors or toothbrushes.
  • Do not share needles or syringes ever! If you have to share, learn the 3 x 3 technique to clean your needles and syringes. Bleach and water are used. Look up more information to find this out. Your HIV test counselor can teach you this as well.
  • Needle exchange is legal in California and other states. There are certain locations (pharmacies and some mobile units) where you can turn in your old needles and get new ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I get tested?

Finding out if you have HIV means that you have the opportunity to receive medical care and prevent passing it on to other people. Although there is no cure, early medical treatment can extend your life and allow for you to be healthier. There are many effective medications that keep people healthy longer. Unlike the early days of the epidemic, the current medications (anti-retrovirals) are more effective and have less side effects. People with HIV can live longer, healthier lives if they follow their medication regimens, eat healthy, and live a healthy lifestyle.

If you know you have HIV, letting your past and current partners know this information means that they can get tested to find out if they were infected. Secondly, it is important to prevent the spread of HIV. Talking to all of your future sex partners about being infected with HIV and using safer sex methods every time you have sex are critical.

My partner tested negative. Does that mean I'm not infected?

The only way to know whether you are infected is to have your own HIV test.

I think I recently placed myself at risk of infection with HIV. Should I get tested right away?

All HIV tests look for antibodies to the virus. It takes time for your body to develop enough antibodies (between 2 weeks and 6 months – this is called a Window Period) after you have been infected. Usually by the third month after being infected, most people have enough antibodies and it will show up on a test. Your HIV test counselor will most likely test you when you come in and then test you again several months later.

Does it take long to get an appointment to be counseled and tested?

Some facilities schedule appointments very quickly, and others take a few weeks.

How much does HIV counseling and testing cost?

Most publicly funded sites are free or require only a minimum fee. If you go to your doctor for counseling and testing, the cost can vary. Ask for prices when making your appointment.

How long will it take to get my results?

This depends on what type of test is conducted. If you have blood drawn, it can take up to 2 weeks to get results. If you have a oral swab or finger stick, then your results will be ready in 20 minutes. This rapid testing method is becoming more common for all of the local health departments.

If I'm pregnant or thinking about having a baby, should I be counseled and tested?

If you or your sex / drug partner have engaged in behaviors that can transmit HIV, you should get counseling and testing. If you test positive and are not treated, there is a 25% chance that you will pass the virus to your unborn baby. With medical treatment, you can decrease your chance to about 2%. If you are already pregnant, you should tell your health care provider that you tested positive. This will help your provider care for you and your baby during and after the pregnancy.

Does the government keep track of those who test positive?

The state health departments that do collect names treat this information as highly confidential. California does report names of those who test HIV positive. This is called name-based reporting and was adopted in April of 2006. Changing to this reporting method enhances the ability to track the number of cases in the state and to increase funding sources for those living with HIV/AIDS who require assistance. It is estimated that about 50% of people who have HIV/AIDS need assistance from the government for medical care.

Can I continue to work if I have HIV infection?

Yes, because HIV cannot be spread by contact that does not involve blood, semen, or vaginal secretions. Many years after infection, some people continue to have no symptoms and remain working productively. Currently, HIV antiretroviral medications are so effective that many people who take them can live healthy, productive lives.

Where can I get tested?

HIV testing is offered for free at your local public health department. At CSULB, we offer free, rapid HIV testing for students. Call 562/985-4609 to schedule an appointment.

References and Resources

Center for Disease Control & Prevention

Hotline: 24 hours/7 days a week

1-800-CDC-INFO

Spanish – (800) 344-7432
Hearing-Impaired Access – (800) 232-6348 (TTY)

Link to finding another HIV testing site in the U.S.

Last updated 07/2012