AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight the organisms that cause disease.
HIV is a sexually transmitted infection. It can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding. It can take years before HIV weakens your immune system to the point that you have AIDS.
There’s no cure for HIV/AIDS, but there are medications that can dramatically slow disease progression. These drugs have reduced AIDS deaths in many developed nations, including the United States.
You can become infected with HIV in several ways, including:
1) By having sex. You may become infected if you have vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner whose blood, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body. The virus can enter your body through mouth sores or small tears that sometimes develop in the rectum or vagina during sexual activity.
2) By sharing needles. HIV can be transmitted through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Sharing intravenous drug paraphernalia puts you at high risk of HIV and other infectious diseases, such as hepatitis.
3) During pregnancy or delivery or through breast-feeding. Infected mothers can infect their babies. But receiving treatment for HIV infection during pregnancy, mothers significantly lower the risk to their babies.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
If you think you have been exposed to HIV, it is important to get tested and West Side can provide confidential HIV testing and HIV education on-site or at prearranged location.
If you are infected with HIV, West Side offers primary and specialty HIV/AIDS care, including case management services. Our HIV Primary Care services include routine and specialty care for individuals who are HIV positive and their families, as well as medication and nutritional support counseling. Case management services are also available to optimize independence with HIV disease management with case managers supporting patients with insurance applications, housing, transportation and treatment support needs including arranging and accompanying patients to other medical appointments if needed. In addition, mental health counseling and referrals for psychiatric assessments to support the mental health needs of HIV patients and their families are also available.
Clinics that offer this service