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Women and HIV - Today is HIV Testing Day

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  • Women and HIV - Today is HIV Testing Day

    Growing up in Northern California, we knew that something was seriously wrong when AIDS first hit. For a short time Sonoma County was named ground zero for HIV infection due to its near proximity to San Francisco. But I didn't really get scared until I went away to college and my first class in public health did an alarming introduction into the danger of HIV and it's potential to mutate. It was terrifying and yet, like so many others, I had one or two dalliances that made me wonder if I had been exposed. It took a lot of courage to go have an AIDS test and it was such a relief to discover that I had not been exposed. I encourage everyone to have the test just to be on the safe side. Really, it's not for you but for the people that you love. We're about love here on the ICN and we show love by protecting the people around us from our own mistakes... and this means that if we develop a sexually transmitted disease, we get it treated IMMEDIATELY! - Jill

    Women and HIV
    • Over 57,000 women in the United States have HIV.
    • Most women get HIV from having sex with men and not using a condom.
    • Women from all backgrounds and cultures can get HIV. However, increasing numbers of African American and Latino women have HIV.

    What is HIV?
    HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

    HIV is a virus that attacks your immune system. The immune system has "T cells" that help protect your body from disease. A person with HIV does not have as many "T cells" as a healthy person. HIV makes it hard for your body to fight off sickness.

    A person with HIV is called HIV positive (HIV+).

    How do you get HIV?

    You can get HIV by:
    • Having sex with a person who is HIV + and not using a condom
    • Sharing needles or syringes ("drug works") with someone who has HIV
    • Getting blood from a person who has HIV

    You can't get HIV by:
    • Being in the same room with someone who has HIV.
    • Sharing a knife or fork, sheets, toilet seats, or phones with someone who has HIV
    • Kissing a person with HIV
    • Shaking hands with someone with HIV
    • Getting bitten by a mosquito or other bug

    What are the signs?

    You cannot tell who has HIV just by looking at them. Most people do not show any outward signs when they first get HIV. A person can spread HIV even if he or she does not look sick. An HIV test is he only way to know for sure if you or someone else has HIV. It may take a few weeks or months for the HIV to show up on a test. This is called the "window period". This means that a person who was just infected may not test positive, even though they have the virus. During the "window period" a person can pass the virus to others. Always protect yourself from HIV.

    How do you get tested for HIV?

    There are 3 main types of tests for HIV:
    • Blood -- a small amount of blood is taken.
    • Oral -- a cotton swab is put in your mouth for about 2-5 minutes.
    • Urine -- a small cup of urine is tested.

    How do you get treated for HIV?

    There is no cure for HIV. There are medicines that you can take to help stop the virus from building up in your body, so that you can stay mostly healthy.

    What should pregnant women know about HIV?

    When a woman is pregnant, she can pass HIV to her fetus through her blood.
    A pregnant woman can take medicine to lower the chance of giving her baby HIV. HIV can get into her breast milk. A woman can pass HIV to her baby during breastfeeding.

    What can you do if you are HIV+?
    1. See your doctor often.
    2. Take your medicine. Medicines must be taken regularly, or it will get harder to treat the virus with those medicines.
    3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
    4. Don't smoke or use illegal (street) drugs.
    5. Get regular exercise.

    To learn more:
    FDA HIV/AIDS Program
    We’re sorry. The page you are looking for is not available for one of the following reasons: the link to this page may not be correct or is out-of-date, or you have bookmarked a page that has moved.

    Phone: 1-800-448-0440
    TTY/TTD: 888-480-3739
    CDC National AIDS Hotline: 1-800-342-2437
    Would you like to talk with someone about your IC struggles? The ICN now offers personal coaching sessions that include myself, Julie Beyer RD on the diet and Dr. Heather Howard on Sexuality.

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    Please remember that the information on the ICN is provided with the understanding that ICN, its founder, staff, volunteers, and participants are not engaged in rendering medical or professional medical services. We cannot and do not give medical advice. Only your personal physician can do this for you.

  • #2
    I was recently tested for HIV.

    I have had both tests, and both thankfully came back neg. Me and another 170 people had been potentially exposed at a hospital for improper use of medical dosing bottles, a new needle/syringe should be use each time and I guess they were reusing the same needle on same person, which is fine, but the needle is being put back into a multi use bottle.

    I guess the chance of contamination is slim, but for the sake of a new needle, some people need a second dose of medication, so they sometimes give a second dose and use the same needle in a multi use bottle.

    I am positive the worry and stress it caused me was not worth the cost of a needle.

    No apology, but I guess I should be glad they did pay to test do the testing twice.

    My are with you all. May you all find a way to peace and joy in your lives.


    • #3
      What a great post, Jill. Thank you for doing that. Women are often the invisible sufferers of this disease.

      I was tested several times when I was going from doctor to doctor to figure out what was wrong with me. The "infections" that never cleared up.....the yeast infections that cycled with the antibiotics......

      It was IC, of course, but it was a weird and scary feeling even though I knew my only possible exposure was a transfusion I had when my daughter was born in 1981.

      I think the blood test should be thrown in with the annual cholesterol/glucose/CBC blood tests that most people get. Although there may be a slight stigma attached to this, people NEED to know so they can get treated......
      Julie Beyer, MA, RDN
      IC Dietitian, Patient Advocate, Speaker, & Author

      Did you know that up to 94% of interstitial cystitis patients find some symptom relief when they change their diet, and that dietary modification is recommended as a first line treatment for IC? Check out the IC Food List to get started!

      Do you need a little more help understanding the IC Diet? Schedule a phone or video coaching session through the ICN Store today.

      You can also learn more while supporting the ICN message boards by clicking on these book covers and buying the Confident Choices books from the ICN Store:

      ........ ........

      Other IC Diet Resources:

      IC Diet Webinar
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      For Health Professionals: Continuing Education About Interstitial Cystitis and Diet
      Free IC Diet Booklet: What Can I Eat?
      Confident Choices IC Diet Blog
      IC Diet Newsletter

      *Let's Connect!*


      • #4
        I don't know about the USA, but I was told in Canada anyways the test is quite expensive, for the most part Canadians don't pay for tests etc, the gov does, so now you can be testing, but have to show risk of exposure.

        Back in 1986 a friend had a blood transfusion too, it really bothered her, she asked her Dr. to test her, he said no we believe our blood is clean, this turned out later to be found not true, anyways he asked if she felt her husband was cheating on her, she said no, so Dr. said no test.

        I am sure it is not this bad to get tested now, or at least I hope they have changed.

        I agree with you totally it should be added into the yearly physical. If they just did the test reg. then their would be no stigma attached to it, and think of all the people who would find out, could deal with it and potentially stop putting other's at risk.

        My are with you all. May you all find a way to peace and joy in your lives.