What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that attacks the human immune system via special cells known as CD4 cells, also known as T cells. HIV kills these cells and makes it more and more difficult for the body to fight off infections. If left untreated, T cell counts will drop to a level where opportunistic infections can more easily take advantage of the immune system. The point at which the T cell count drops below 200 per drop of blood and/or an opportunistic infection sets in is when the HIV-infected individual is now said to have AIDS.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. It is most commonly transmitted through sexual activity or needle sharing.
HIV is *not* transmitted through sweat, urine, tears, saliva, insect bites, or surfaces such as a toilet seat.

Is there a cure for HIV?

No, there is currently no cure for HIV. If you have HIV, there are medications that you can take that reduce your viral load. These medications help to keep you healthy, and they also help to lower the chances of you infecting others.

Are HIV and AIDS the same thing?

No. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), but not everyone that has HIV has or gets AIDS. Early and consistent treatment can allow people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives.

Who should get tested?

Everyone! Anyone can get HIV. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine health care. If your last HIV test was more than a year ago and you meet any of the following criteria listed here , you should get an HIV test as soon as possible.

Why should I get an HIV test?

It is important to know your status so that you can protect your own health and the health of your partners. About 1 in 7 people in the United States who have HIV doesn’t know that they have it. The only way to know is to get tested.

What tests are available at Positive Directions?

We provide Rapid HIV tests and syphilis tests. The Rapid HIV test is done by a finger prick, and the syphilis test is done via blood draw from a vein.

How can I get tested at Positive Directions?

Stop by our office anytime during regular business hours (M-F 9-4). There is no appointment needed, and, for HIV tests, you’ll get results in 20 minutes.

What can I expect during a HIV test at Positive Directions?

The HIV test at Positive Directions is a Rapid HIV test, which is a finger prick test that takes only 20 minutes to produce results. The test requires only a drop of blood. While you wait for test results, one of our certified testers will answer any questions you have about HIV, HIV testing, risk reduction behaviors and chat with you about the next steps to protect your health. Any information you share during this period is completely confidential. If your test indicates an HIV infection, we will connect you to healthcare resources to get a confirmatory test and discuss treatment steps.

Do I need insurance to get tested at Positive Directions?

No, you do not need insurance to be tested at Positive Directions; the test, and every other service at Positive Directions is completely free.

I think I may have been exposed to HIV. What do I do?

If it has been less than 72 hours since the time you think you may have been exposed to HIV, contact your health care provider or an emergency room doctor right away about PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis), a medication that can help prevent HIV infection. One health care provider option is the University of Kansas Medical Center .
If it has been more than 72 hours since the time you think you may have been exposed, the first step is to take an HIV test. No test can detect HIV immediately after exposure. The Rapid HIV tests administered at Positive Directions are designed to detect the HIV Antigen as soon as 14 days after exposure.

How can I protect myself against HIV?

There are a number of risk reduction behaviors that you can adopt that help to prevent HIV transmission. Some include:

  • Proper use of a condom every time you have sex
  • Having oral sex instead of vaginal or anal sex
  • Reducing your number of sexual partners
  • Never sharing needles or any drug injection equipment (syringes, cotton, water)
  • Not having sex while drunk or high
  • Abstaining from injection drug use
  • Abstaining from sex

How do you use a condom properly?

  • Use a condom every time you have sex
  • Check the expiration date on the condom to ensure it has not expired
  • Open the package carefully and remove the condom
  • If the condom appears damaged in any way, discard it and use a different condom
  • Squeeze a small amount of lubricant into the tip of the condom (no oil-based lubricants!)
  • Carefully roll the condom down a fully erect penis while pinching the tip of the condom and checking for air pockets
  • Immediately after ejaculation, hold the condom at the base and withdraw
  • Remove condom carefully, tie it in a knot and dispose of it in the trash

I am HIV positive. Where can I get help?

In the Sedgwick county area, you can reach out to the Sedgwick County Health Department or the University of Kansas Medical Center

I have a question about HIV, STDs, safe sex practices or Positive Directions that isn’t answered here.

Check out some of the resources listed below, or contact us ! We’re happy to help.

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