HIV/AIDS FAQ

  • How can I reduce my chances of getting or passing on HIV?

    There are many ways of protecting yourself and reducing your risk:
    • Abstinence. This means not having any anal, oral, and vaginal sex.
    • Be responsible for your own health. Get tested for HIV and STIs.
    • Condoms and water-based lube. Correct and consistent use of condoms remains effective in reducing risk. For anal sex, water-based lubricant should be used with condoms. Oil-based lubricants (e.g. Vaseline, baby oil, cooking oil, etc.) damages latex condoms.
    • Communication. Talk openly and regularly about sex, HIV, and prevention with your sex partner(s).
    • Reconsider/Reduce alcohol and drug use before having sex. Alcohol and drugs prevent you from making
  • What is the “window period” following an HIV test?

    The window period is the time between being infected with HIV and testing positive for HIV, usually 6 weeks. During the window period, a person can have HIV, but test negative when testing for HIV. Chances of passing on HIV to another person is very high during the window period. It is recommended that a person test for HIV again after 8 weeks after the first HIV test and again after 12 weeks.
  • Who are people at higher risk for HIV?

    • Some groups are at higher risk of HIV because of individual, social, or structural factors which doesn’t always make it possible to access health services. These groups are called key populations (men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs, transgender people, and prisoners) and priority populations (adolescent girls and young women and orphaned and vulnerable children).
    • People who engage in risky behaviours, such as anal and vaginal sex without using condoms or taking medication to prevent or treat HIV.
    • People who share needles and syringes to inject drugs.
  • What is HIV?

    HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The virus attacks cells in the body’s immune system which fight against infections and diseases.
  • What is AIDS?

    If not treated, HIV can lead to a disease called AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
  • How do people get or pass on HIV?

    • Through anal and vaginal sex with someone who has HIV without using condoms or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV.
    • Through oral sex although the risk is very low.
    • Through sharing needles and syringes to inject drugs with someone who has HIV.
    • A mother who has HIV can pass on HIV to her baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding if she is not taking her HIV treatment.
  • How does HIV enter the body?

    HIV enters the body through mucous membranes (layers of cells) or damaged tissue (e.g. cuts and sores) in the mouth, or on the penis, rectum, and vagina. HIV can also be injected into the blood stream through sharing needles and syringes to inject drugs.
  • In which body fluids can HIV be found?

    Blood, breast milk, vaginal fluids, semen, pre-seminal fluid (“pre-cum”), and/or rectal Fluids.
  • Does having sexually transmitted infections (STIs) increase my risk of getting or passing on HIV?

    Yes. If you have another STI the chances of getting or passing on HIV is increased. It is recommended that you and your sex partner(s) get tested for STIs every 3-6 months.
  • How do I know if I or my sex partner(s) have HIV?

    You cannot look at someone to tell if they have HIV. The only way to know is to have an HIV test regularly every 6 months. For people at higher risk, it is recommended they test for HIV every 3 months.