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How To Protect Yourself From AIDS
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is part of the United States Government. It is FDA's job to make sure that blood transfusions and medicines are safe and that treatments work against HIV and AIDS.
About HIV and AIDS
AIDS is a disease that can be deadly. It is caused by a virus called HIV.
The most common ways to get AIDS are:
You can also get HIV from a blood transfusion, if the HIV is in the blood. But
that is rare. Strict rules about who can donate blood and tests on donated blood make transfusions very safe.
You cannot get HIV by donating blood. You cannot get HIV just by being in the same room with an infected person, or just by shaking hands or hugging an infected person.
In the last few years, AIDS has increased most among women, African Americans and Hispanics.
Sex, Condoms and AIDS
If you or your partner have had sex with someone else, you both could get AIDS.
In the United States, women are more likely to get HIV from men than the other way around. Latex condoms are the best way to keep from getting HIV during sex. If you or your partner is allergic to latex, there are condoms made of polyurethane that can protect against HIV, too.
But natural membrane condoms, also called lambskin condoms, do not prevent HIV because the virus can pass through them.
If a man can't or won't use a condom, a woman can use the Reality female condom. It may protect against HIV, but it's not as good as the latex condom a man uses. Do not use a Reality female condom along with a male condom. Both condoms will not stay in place when used together.
Latex and polyurethane condoms are the only birth control products that protect against HIV. So even if you're using another kind of birth control--like the Pill, IUD, cervical cap, Norplant, Depo-Provera, or diaphragm--the man must still use a condom if you want protection against HIV.
Find Out If You Have HIV
You can find out if you have HIV at home with a test kit available at drugstores without a doctor's prescription. To use the test, you prick your finger to get a blood sample. Then you send the sample to the address given in the directions. You don't have to give your name. Be aware, though, that other tests, sometimes called rapid HIV test kits, have been advertised and sold over the Internet and elsewhere. These kits do not require you to send the tests to a lab. FDA has not approved these tests and they may not be accurate.
Your doctor's office or clinic is a good place to get a test for HIV.
If the test says that you have HIV, ask your doctor or clinic:
If you're a woman and you think you may be pregnant, find out right away if you have HIV.
Treatment early in pregnancy can greatly reduce the chance that your baby will have HIV.
FDA has approved many drugs to treat HIV and AIDS.
They can help people with HIV or AIDS feel better for a
longer time. But there is nothing yet that will cure AIDS.
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