HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is an infection that spreads via direct contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. Blood, semen and pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk can all transmit the disease. For transmission to occur, the HIV in these fluids must get into the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person through a mucous membrane; open cuts or sores; or by direct injection.
HIV destroys white blood cells, which are key to the immune system or the body’s natural ability to fight disease. If left untreated, HIV develops into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), a stage of the illness in which the patient has a very weak immune system that makes them more susceptible to life compromising illnesses.
There is no cure for HIV. However, HIV treatment does a good job of suppressing the virus, slowing or stopping disease progression. With the proper treatment, a person can achieve an undetectable viral load. Once undetectable, research has shown that the disease cannot be transmitted to others.
Who is at risk?
The following groups have an increased risk of becoming infected with HIV: Men who have sex with men, transwomen who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, people who exchange sex for drugs or money, people disproportionately exposed to racism, particularly those who are foreign-born Black, Black/African American, and Latinx, and people between the ages of 25 and 29 years old.
You can learn more by reviewing the CDC fact sheet on STIs and HIV.
Healthcare providers and facilities must report AIDS and HIV cases to the Health Department within three working days.
There are two ways to report an infection:
- Fax the Confidential HIV/AIDS Case Report Form to Kitsap Public Health’s confidential fax at (360) 813-1168.
- Mail the Confidential HIV/AIDS Case Report Form to Washington State Department of Health, Assessment Unit, PO Box 47838, Olympia, WA 98504-7838.
- Underlying Medical Conditions Associated with High Risk for Severe COVID-19: Information for Healthcare Providers
- Discontinuation of Transmission-Based Precautions and Dispostition of Patients with COVID-19 Infection in Healthcare Settings
- CDC Interim STD Treatment Recommendations during COVID-19
- CDC Guidance during disruption of STD clinical services.
- Department of Health and Human Services Dear Provider letter.
- HIV Treatment and Care – CDC
- Transforming Health—CDC resources for healthcare providers treating transgender people living with HIV
- CDC 2021 STI Treatment Guidelines
- Clinician Consultation Center—HIV/AIDS, PrEP, Perinatal HIV and PEP information from University of California, San Francisco
- HIV testing page—Washington State Department of Health
- Prevention Challenges—CDC statistics and information about transgender people and HIV
- Injection Safety —CDC
- One and Only Campaign —CDC
- HIV and Coinfections – CDC
- CDC Disease Information for Clinicians
- COVID-19 and HIV
- National HIV curriculum self-study training modules
- CDC Professional Associations and Other Resources
- CDC Guidance: PrEP for HIV prevention
- DOH Guidance: PrEP and PEP for HIV Prevention
- PrEP Watch: data, research and access
- WHO PrEP implementation guidelines