What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, making it unable to fight off many infections. If the virus goes untreated, it can progress to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) when your T-cell / CD4 count is below 200 copies per milliliter

How is HIV Transmitted?

 HIV is spread through infected body fluids:

    • Blood
    • semen
    • pre-seminal fluid
    • fluid from the rectum
    • fluid from the vagina / front hole
    • breast milk

HIV can only spread when infected fluid from a person with HIV gets into the body of another person through:

    • broken skin
    • mucosal membranes of the body (vagina, rectum, foreskin) 
    • the opening of the penis  

If you have HIV and are not on ART, you can pass the virus to your baby during:

      • Pregnancy
      • Childbirth
      • Breastfeeding / Chestfeeding

Symptoms of HIV infection

  • Many do not develop any symptoms immediately after being infected with HIV but can still have a very high viral load (Acute stage).
  • Of those that do show symptoms, many develop mild flu-like symptoms 2 to 4 weeks after becoming infected with HIV. 
  • Common early symptoms include:
    • Fever, fatigue, chills, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, joint pain & swollen glands (lymph nodes)
  • The symptoms of HIV infection may last from several days to weeks and may go away on their own.

Treatment of HIV infection

There is NO cure for HIV.

If you have HIV, you can be treated with highly effective antiretroviral (ART) drugs.

These drugs help:

  • Lower the level of HIV in your body (viral suppression)
  • Slow the spread of the virus in your body
  • Help your immune system fight off other infections
  • Undetectable = Untransmittable

Diagnosis of HIV

HIV can be diagnosed using several types of blood tests:

  1. Anonymous rapid test: tests for antibodies in a finger-prick blood test and only takes a few minutes to get results. It can detect antibodies 3-4 weeks after infection. 
  2. Standard Blood draw tests: can be taken in a clinic. It can detect antibodies 3-4 weeks after infection. Results can take about 1 to 2 weeks depending on where you live.
  3. Early Blood Draw Tests (NAAT/RNA): detects the virus seven to 14 days after infection. Results can take about 1 to 2 weeks depending on where you live.
  4. Dry Blood Spot tests: (used in the sex now campaign) can be self-administered and mailed to a testing centre. Results can take about 1 to 2 weeks depending on where you live.

HIM: http://checkhimout.ca/testing/about-hiv-stis/hiv/types-of-hiv-tests/


 

History of HIV

In Canada in 2016:

  • An estimated 63,110 people were living with HIV
  • An estimated 2,165 new HIV infections occurred
  • 86% of Canadians living with HIV were diagnosed
  • 81% of Canadians diagnosed with HIV were on treatment
  • 91% of HIV positive Canadians on treatment had achieved viral suppression
  • The federal government does not track data on trans or non-binary people

Transmission of new HIV infections

  • Male-to-male sexual contact – 53%
  • Heterosexual contact – 33%
  • Injection drug use – 11%
  • Male-to-male sexual contact & injection drug use – 3%

To learn more about HIV and what you can do to prevent the virus, visit: Canada.ca and search HIV/AIDS.

What are the Problems today? 

  • Stigma and discrimination
  • Criminalization has been focused on 2SLGBTQ+
  • Lack of access to testing, treatment and prevention for all

HIV and the Law

  • People with HIV can be prosecuted for not disclosing their HIV status to sexual partners even if there is low or no risk
  • Only if you use condoms AND your viral load is below 1500 copies/ml, at the same time, you do not need to disclose. In many places, including Ontario, if you can prove that you have a viral load below 200 copies/ml for 6 months prior to sexual activity you do not need to disclose.
  • This adds to the many layers of stigma surrounding HIV+ people and the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
  • Please visit aidslaw.ca for more information.

Transmission of new HIV infections

  • Male-to-male sexual contact – 53%
  • Heterosexual contact – 33%
  • Injection drug use – 11%
  • Male-to-male sexual contact & injection drug use – 3%

To learn more about HIV and what you can do to prevent the virus, visit: Canada.ca and search HIV/AIDS.

 What are the Problems today? 

  • Stigma and discrimination
  • Criminalization has been focused on 2SLGBTQ+
  • Lack of access to testing, treatment and prevention for all
  • There is a lack of access to and knowledge of PrEP & HIV medication
  • The U=U Campaign and message is not being endorsed by everyone
  • Government information almost always targets those already diagnosed HIV+