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HIV & AIDS Health Center

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HIV, AIDS, and Older Adults

How Do People Get HIV/AIDS?

ANYONE can get HIV and AIDS. Regardless of your age, and especially if you are 50 or older, you may be at risk for HIV if any of the following is true:

If you are sexually active and don't use a male latex condom. You can get HIV/AIDS from having sex with someone who is infected with the HIV virus. The virus passes from the infected person to another through the exchange of body fluids such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluid. HIV can get into your body during sex through any opening, such as a tear or cut in the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, or mouth.

If you don't know your partner's sexual and drug history. Has your partner been tested for HIV/AIDS? Has he or she had a number of different sex partners? Does your partner inject drugs?

If you inject drugs and share needles or syringes with other people. Drug users are not the only people who might share needles. People with diabetes, for example, who inject insulin or draw blood to test glucose levels, might share needles. If you have shared needles for any reason or if you have had sex with someone who has, you should be tested for HIV/AIDS.

If you had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985, or a blood transfusion or operation in a developing country at any time.

If any one of the above is true, you should be tested for HIV/AIDS. Check your local phone directory for the number of a hospital or health center where you can get a list of test sites. In most states the tests can be confidential (you give your name) or anonymous (you don't give your name).

There are many myths about HIV/AIDS. The examples below are FACTS:

  • You cannot get HIV through casual contact such as shaking hands or hugging a person with HIV/AIDS.

  • You cannot get HIV from using a public telephone, drinking fountain, restroom, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, or hot tub.

  • You cannot get HIV from sharing a drink or being coughed or sneezed on by a person with HIV/AIDS.

  • You cannot get HIV from donating blood.

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