What is HIV?

  • HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
  • It is the virus (small germ) than can lead to AIDS if untreated.
  • Normally, your immune system fights off infection and other diseases. HIV attacks your immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight infection.
  • Once you have HIV, you have it for life.
What is AIDS?

  • AIDS stands for Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome.
  • It is the worst stage of HIV infection.
  • The immune system has been damaged badly at this point which allows for more infections to grow.
How Can Someone Become Infected with HIV?

Two main ways to become infected with HIV are:

  • Having vaginal, anal, and/or oral sex with an infected person or
  • Sharing drug needles or syringes with an infected person. Less common or rare cases of passing HIV to another person has happened by:
  • A woman to her baby during pregnancy, during birth, or while breastfeeding.
  • Receiving blood transfusions. This possibility has been greatly reduced since all blood donations are carefully screened and tested.
  • Contact between broken skin or wounds and HIV-infected blood/ body fluids. You cannot get HIV from:
  • Everyday contact with infected people (e.g. touching, hugging, shaking hands).
  • Clothes, phones, or toilet seats.
  • Mosquito bites or blood-sucking insects.
Ways to Help Prevent HIV Infection

  • Get tested and/or treated for HIV. Follow up with your Provider as directed.
  • If sexually active, practice safe sex and use condoms correctly every time you have sex.
  • Do not abuse alcohol and drugs. Do not share needles/syringes.
  • If you are planning to become pregnant, get tested for HIV as soon as possible.
JSMC will treat all patients without regard to their HIV/AIDS status. If you would like more information, please call:

If you have questions or would like more information, ask your nurse or call:
Kentucky HIV/AIDS
Education Program

(502) 564-6539
Kentucky AIDS Hotline
(844) 294-2448
CDC National AIDS Hotline
(800) 232-4636 or (888) 232-6348