What is HIV?

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. The first cases of AIDS were identified in the United States in 1981, but the virus probably existed here and in other parts of the world for many years before that. In 1984, scientists proved that HIV causes AIDS. Just because you are HIV positive, it DOES NOT mean that you have AIDS.

Ways you might have gotten HIV:

  • having unprotected sex (sex without a condom) with someone who has HIV
  • sharing a needle to inject drugs or sharing drug works with someone who has HIV
  • having a mother who was infected with HIV when you were born
  • from a blood transfusion (However, it is unlikely you got infected that way because all blood in the United States has been tested for HIV since 1985.)

Ways you did NOT get (and no one else can get) HIV:

  • just working with or being around some one who has HIV
  • being stung or bitten by an insect
  • sitting on toilet seats
  • doing everyday things like sharing a meal