1) Educate yourself on the virus.
- HIV-related reading materials can be found at many libraries, pharmacies, and websites.
a) HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
- This is the virus that causes AIDS. A person can be HIV-positive for many years without becoming sick. Even when healthy, there is a possibility of transmitting the virus on to another person. You cannot tell by someone’s appearance if they have HIV or not. HIV, like other viruses, does not have the ability to reproduce on its own. In order to reproduce, it invades cells of the immune system and uses their replication abilities to reproduce.
b) AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and is the result of HIV infection.
- When a person has AIDS, their body may be at risk for acquiring many infections. Some bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that once seemed harmless may cause serious illness, or even death, when a person has AIDS. A full definition of AIDS can be found at the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov.
c) How does someone get HIV/AIDS?
- HIV/AIDS is transmitted through intimate physical or sexual contact with a person who is infected, through blood-to-blood contact with a person who is infected, and a mother can pass the virus to her baby during labor, delivery or breastfeeding. HIV is found in the blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk of those with the virus. If these fluids have contact with broken skin, mucous membranes or are inserted into the body with a needle, HIV transmission can occur. HIV is NOT transmitted: by sneezing or coughing on people, by swimming in a pool, by a handshake, hug, or even a kiss (There are no known cases caused by sweat, saliva or tears.)
2) Allow your loved one or family member to choose to whom and when they reveal their HIV status.
3) Counseling, Prayer and Meditation or a Support Group may help you to deal with this news.
4) Resist the temptation to judge.