Testing, Treatment & Prevention

Frequently Asked Questions

Red Question MarkHow would I know if I had HIV?
You wouldn’t know unless you got tested. HIV does not announce itself. There is no one symptom. A person can be infected for many years before having any symptoms at all – and they can infect others. It is important for everyone to get tested for HIV. For more information about HIV testing, click here.

If I have HIV will I get AIDS?
People with HIV may eventually develop AIDS, but early diagnosis and good medical care with potent anti–retroviral medications can slow the progress of the disease. Although there is no cure for AIDS, many people with HIV live long, healthy lives if they have expert medical care.

How is AIDS diagnosed?
Medical providers look for HIV antibodies in the blood by ordering special blood tests. Before confirming the diagnosis, providers can count the number of T–helper cells (a type of white blood cell) in the blood, a measure of how strong the immune system is. Medical providers also look for other signs that show the body’s defenses are damaged – for example, cancers or infections that generally attack only people whose defenses aren’t working.

When was the first case of AIDS in the United States?
The first cases of AIDS in the United States were reported in 1981, but the illness was not referred to as AIDS until 1982.

Is AIDS found only in the United States?
No. AIDS is a growing pandemic around the globe, especially in Asia, Eastern Europe, India, and Africa.