Just the Facts

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Austen Bernstein
Outreach Volunteer


"For two years now I have volunteered for LIFEbeat. My experience with LIFEbeat has been very rewarding and has allowed me to interact with up to 2,000 people a night. At one outreach I spent two hours talking about HIV prevention with a girl whose boyfriend hadn't been tested before. She called me a few weeks after the show to thank me because he tested HIV positive."

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Just the Facts
What are HIV and AIDS?
How is HIV Transmitted?
What actions put me at risk?
How do I prevent myself from contracting or transmitting HIV?
Why should I be tested for HIV?
What is involved in HIV testing?
What other STDs should I be concerned about?


What are HIV and AIDS?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system (the body's defense against infection). HIV uses healthy white blood cells to replicate itself, breaking down the immune system and leaving the body more susceptible to illness.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the condition that can result from HIV infection. An HIV positive person is diagnosed with AIDS when their immune system is so weakened that it is no longer able to fight off illness. People with immune deficiency are much more vulnerable to infections such as pneumonia and various forms of cancer. These diseases are called "opportunistic infections" because they take advantage of the weakened immune system. Ultimately, people do not die from AIDS itself, they die from one or more of these opportunistic infections.

Currently, THERE IS NO CURE FOR AIDS. While anti-viral medications and healthy behavior can improve the quality and length of life for some people living with AIDS, these treatments do not work for everyone and may cause harmful side effects.

It can take several years before HIV breaks down a person's immune system and causes AIDS, and people may show few symptoms for several years after they are infected. People who appear perfectly healthy may not know they have the virus and can pass it on to others. The only way to know if you have HIV is to GET TESTED.



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