What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV attacks and weakens the body’s immune system. It causes damage to the body by decreasing its ability to fight diseases and infections. HIV can eventually cause AIDS.

What is AIDS?

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome:

  • Acquired (People get the disease through contact with HIV)
  • Immuno (Refers to the body’s immune system)
  • Deficiency (A deficit in the immune system)
  • Syndrome (Characterize by a wide range of complications and symptoms)

AIDS is the most severe stage of HIV (stage 3). This happens when the immune system loses too many CD4 cells. CD4 cells play an important role in our immune system. They protect the body from disease. Without them, the body is less able to fight off infection and can develop serious illnesses and other problems. Medical treatment for HIV can delay the onset of AIDS. This is why it is important to know your status and receive treatment as soon as possible if you have HIV.

How is HIV Transmitted?

The most common ways are:

  • Not using a condom when having sex with a person who has HIV. Any kind of unprotected sex with someone who has HIV holds some risk. However, unprotected anal sex is riskier than unprotected vaginal sex. The risk is greater among:
    • Men who have sex with other men. Unprotective receptive anal sex is riskier than unprotected insertive anal sex.
  •  Having many sex partners or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). These factors also increase the risk of HIV infection during sex. Unprotected oral sex can also be a risk for HIV transmission, but it is a much lower risk than anal or vaginal sex.
  • Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare illicit drugs for injection. Being born to a mom or a trans dad living with HIV. Pregnant people living with HIV can pass the virus to their children during pregnancy, birth, or during breast-feeding.
What is U=U?

U=U is an abbreviation for Undetectable=Untransmittable. U=U means that people with an undetectable HIV viral load under daily prescribed treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) cannot transmit the virus sexually to others. U=U it’s also part of an international campaign to raise awareness about the benefit of antiretroviral medication to stop the transmission of HIV.  

HIV Programs in Washington

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HIV Community Services Program

This program helps remove all barriers to continuous HIV care, including stigma and discrimination.

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HIV Client Services Program

The mission of HIV Client Services is to suppress viral load by ensuring access to quality services for people living with HIV in Washington.

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Early Intervention Program

This program helps eligible persons living with HIV get medical care and support to improve their health.

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The Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Drug Assistance Program is a drug/medication assistance program for people who do not have HIV but have risk factors that expose them to HIV.

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Medical HIV Case Management

This program helps connect people living with HIV with health services and resources.

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Housing Opportunities

Housing Opportunities for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (HOPWA) is a federally funded program dedicated to meeting the housing needs of low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

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HIV Services and Resources

Additional Information and Resources