HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. If untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS. With early and continuous medical care, someone with HIV can live nearly as long as someone who does not have HIV. Everyone aged 13-64 should get tested for HIV at least once. Some people are more at risk [659 KB] for HIV and should be tested at least once a year. Some sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3-6 months). Women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant should get tested as soon as possible so they can take steps to protect their babies if they have HIV.
- An estimated 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. About 1 in 7 of them don’t know they are infected.
- The only way to know you have HIV is to get tested.
- Ask your healthcare provider for an HIV test, or go to gettested.cdc.gov to find a testing site near you.
- If you are living with HIV, treatment is available to keep you healthy and protect your sex partners.
- The sooner people with HIV start treatment, the more they benefit.
- If you are living with HIV, get and stay on treatment, called antiretroviral therapy (ART), to protect your health and help prevent transmitting HIV to others.
- If you are at high risk for HIV, take daily medicine to prevent HIV, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
- Take antiretroviral medicine, called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), if you think you have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours and are not on PrEP.
- Get tested and treated for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Having other STDs increases your risk for getting or transmitting HIV.
- Limit the number of sex partners. Having fewer sexual partners lowers your chances of getting HIV or transmitting HIV if you already have the virus.
- Choose less risky activities like oral sex.
- Use condoms the right way every time you have sex.
- Don’t inject drugs, or if you do, don’t share needles or works.
- Abstinence (not having sex) and not sharing needles or works are the only 100% effective ways to prevent HIV.
- Page last reviewed: February 7, 2018
- Page last updated: February 7, 2018
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