hiv sylvia

ONE HEALTHY LIFE: Sylvia

"Like most people, I knew something about AIDS and HIV, but I believed it could never happen to me. When a friend told me about the quick and confidential test offered by the African American Health Program, I decided it couldn't hurt. When the test came back positive, I was shocked. A counselor was available right then to help me. Ever since, the AAHP has continued to offer me information, referrals and support. I'm not saying it's been easy, but today I am living with confidence, with hope-and yes, with AIDS."

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. HIV affects specific cells of the immune system, called CD4 cells, or T cells. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. When this happens, HIV infection leads to AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. This means that once you have HIV, you have it for life. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. It can take years to reach this stage.

One in 5 of the more than one million people living with HIV in the U.S. is unaware of his or her infection. HIV is passed from one person to another by:

  • Having unprotected sex of any kind with a person who has HIV
  • Sharing needles with someone who has HIV
  • Getting a transfusion of blood that has HIV, which is rare in the United States
  • Pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding, if the mother has HIV

 
When compared with other races and ethnicities, African Americans account for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease--from new infections to deaths. At some point in their lives, an estimated 1 in 16 Black men and 1 in 32 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV infection.

In 2010, an estimated 1 in 264 Montgomery County residents over age 13 was diagnosed with HIV. Though Black adults and adolescents comprise about 16% of the County's population, they represent 66% of the diagnoses.

If you test positive for HIV, the disease can be managed so that you stay well, delay the onset of AIDS, and prevent some life-threatening conditions from emerging.

AAHP offers a variety of resources to help prevent and manage HIV/AIDS. Click on the side links to learn more.

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