Sometimes people with HIV are described as people with AIDS this is not correct. You can have HIV without having AIDS. With an early diagnosis and correct treatment people can live long lives with HIV without ever developing AIDS.

HIV Symptoms: Some people who are infected with HIV experience a short, flu-like illness that occurs two to six weeks after infection when their body produces antibodies in response to the virus. After this HIV rarely causes any symptoms for several years.

Knowing your HIV status is important. It is possible to reduce or eliminate your risk by making safe and informed choices in your life. The fact is:  HIV is preventable.

Most people diagnosed with HIV acquire it through sexual contact, mainly through unprotected vaginal or anal sex. It is possible to catch HIV through unprotected oral sex but the risk is far lower.

According to UNAIDS, there are approximately 7 million people are living with HIV in South Africa and whilst diagnosis rates have improved significantly since 2000, approximately   1.7 million people remain undiagnosed. Early HIV diagnosis is vital so effective treatment can be given to protect your health and to prevent onward transmission. Most people lead long and normal lives with early detection and appropriate treatment. Late diagnosis can result in unnecessary illness and reduce your life expectancy. People who remain unaware of their HIV status are unknowingly the source of the majority of new infections.

Regardless of your HIV status, everyone needs to have knowledge of HIV and how it is transmitted. Understanding safer sex and the effective use of condoms are crucial in protecting your own and others’ health. This can help to give confidence in negotiating safer sex and addressing possible risk taking behaviour.