Important note: AACHAC is in the process of updating this health information. Please check back with us soon for the latest information. (6/13/2014)
What is HIV/AIDS?
AIDS is the result of being infected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which attacks the body’s ability to protect itself from infections. People who have HIV or AIDS can develop disabling and fatal diseases from infections most people fight off without ever knowing they were exposed to them. In San Mateo County, our African American community has more than twice the death rate of the white community—46.1 persons per 100,000 population, compared to 19.7. Teaching about the dangers of unprotected sex and intravenous drug abuse are essential to control the spread of this devastating virus.
In spite of new treatments that are keeping people who have HIV and AIDS alive much longer, AIDS continues to be a serious problem. The new treatments are expensive, require adherence to a strict schedule and are not always effective.
- HIV is transmitted either through exposure to infected blood, sexual intercourse or during birth to an infected mother.
- Although AIDS first appeared in the gay male community in the United States, many of the people who have it now are men and women who are not gay, and children.
- There is no vaccine to protect against AIDS yet, but avoiding risky behaviors is effective. Risky behaviors include:
- Having unprotected (without a condom) sex with someone who has had other partners
- Sharing needles with other drug abusers.
You cannot be exposed to HIV/AIDS by giving blood or by non-sexual contact with a person who has HIV/AIDS. Some medical workers who have been exposed to contaminated blood have contracted HIV, but the blood used for transfusions is checked to make sure it is safe.