Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions we commonly receive from patients, whether you’re seeking clarity on transmission, testing, treatment options, or living with HIV, we’re here to offer accurate and up-to-date guidance. Our goal is to empower individuals with knowledge, promote understanding, and foster a supportive environment for those affected by HIV.

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that attacks the immune system, specifically targeting CD4 cells, which are crucial for fighting off infections. If left untreated, HIV can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in which the immune system becomes severely weakened, making individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections and cancers.

HIV is transmitted through certain body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, and breast milk. The most common modes of transmission include unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing needles or syringes with an infected person, and from mother to child during childbirth or breastfeeding.

No, HIV is not transmitted through casual contact such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands, sharing food or drinks, or using the same toilet seat. HIV is primarily spread through specific body fluids as mentioned above.

Many people infected with HIV do not experience any symptoms for years. When symptoms do occur, they may include fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, rash, muscle aches, and night sweats. These symptoms can resemble those of other illnesses, so the only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested.

HIV can be diagnosed through a blood test that detects the presence of antibodies to the virus or through a combination test that detects both HIV antibodies and antigens. Home testing kits are also available for self-testing, and some health centers, such as Health Services of North Texas (HSNT), offer rapid HIV testing with results available in as little as 20 minutes.
HIV is treated using a combination of antiretroviral therapy (ART) medications. ART helps to suppress the virus, reduce the viral load in the body, and prevent the progression of HIV to AIDS. With effective treatment, people living with HIV can lead long and healthy lives and significantly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others. Notably, there are now highly convenient one-pill-a-day medication options, marking significant strides in HIV treatment. Moreover, advancements have introduced injectable alternatives to traditional pills, broadening the spectrum of treatment choices available.
As of now, there is no cure for HIV, but with proper treatment, the virus can be controlled and managed effectively. Researchers continue to work on finding a cure through various avenues, including gene editing and immunotherapy.
Prevention strategies include practicing safer sex by using condoms consistently and correctly, avoiding sharing needles or syringes, and using pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for individuals at high risk of HIV infection. It’s also important to get tested regularly for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

PrEP is recommended for individuals who are at high risk of HIV infection. This includes people in serodiscordant relationships (where one partner is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative), individuals who engage in condomless sex with multiple partners, people who inject drugs, and others at increased risk.

Many insurance plans cover the cost of PrEP, but coverage can vary depending on your specific plan and location. There are also assistance programs available for those who are uninsured or underinsured to help cover the cost of PrEP.

Yes, HIV/AIDS remains a significant global health challenge, particularly in regions with limited access to healthcare and prevention resources. While progress has been made in terms of treatment and prevention, there is still much work to be done to achieve the goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

There are numerous resources available for information and support about HIV, including healthcare providers, community-based organizations, HIV/AIDS hotlines, and online resources such as the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Our blog and resources page also offers additional support and information.

What is your part?

Get in touch with us today and let’s end the HIV epidemic in North Texas together!

Our Affiliations

Health Services of North Texas (HSNT) is recognized as a member of the CDC’s National Prevention Information Network (NPIN). See our affiliation notices with the CDC here: