The following are some facts you should know about HIV/AIDS:

  • HIV/AIDS stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

  • HIV is the name of the virus that can cause AIDS when left untreated.

  • HIV is found in blood, semen, vaginal fluids, anal mucus and breast milk.

  • It can be passed on or transmitted during unprotected sex or when needles or syringes are shared to inject drugs.

  • A mother with HIV can also pass it on to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding, but there are medications available to greatly reduce this risk.

  • HIV cannot be passed on by: - mosquito bites (or any other insect bites) - social contact such as sharing cutlery, toilets, showers or telephones - kissing, hugging or shaking hands with a person who has HIV infection - contact with saliva, sweat, tears or urine (as long as no blood is present)

  • Between about 2-6 weeks after infection with HIV, some people get flu-like symptoms such as a fever, sore throat, swollen glands and muscle aches and pains. Some people also experience a rash on their body. During this time the body produces HIV antibodies to try and fight the infection.

  • Blood tests can detect these antibodies 6 weeks after initial contact with the virus. This is what is commonly known as the window period.

There are effective medical treatments to keep people living with HIV healthy. There is also medication to prevent HIV infection for those at high risk (PrEP) and medication to prevent infection after a risk (PEP), but there is no cure.

Organisations that specialise in this area of reproductive and/or sexual health

Where to get more information, support or advice


This website provides general information only. The suitability of such general information varies from person to person, depending on individual circumstances. You should seek specific medical or legal advice for your individual circumstances.

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Last updated: 5 June 2016

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