What is it?

  • A virus that damages the immune system over time if left untreated

How is it transmitted? 

  • Blood to blood contact
  • Condomless sexual contact
  • Vertical transmission – mother to baby not on HIV medication
  • Blood transfusion/products and tattoos in unregulated countries

Activities which place people at risk 

  • Sexual contact with a person living with HIV, especially when not on treatment or they don’t know they have HIV
  • Sharing injecting equipment
  • Tattooing and skin piercing with contaminated equipment

Short term effects 

  • May present as flu-like illness and include fever, swollen glands, sore throat, rash, fatigue, muscle, joint aches and pains and headache 2-4 weeks after infection
  • Some people do not experience any symptoms

Long term effects 

  • The longer HIV remains untreated the more likely it is that other medical conditions will develop that may become life-threatening.


  • No


  • Using condoms
  • No sharing of injecting or auxiliary equipment
  • Ensure sterile equipment for tattooing and skin piercing
  • Follow Universal Precautions when managing body fluids
  • Avoid sharing toothbrushes, combs and razors
  • There is PEP, medication taken within 72 hours for 28 days to prevent HIV, if you think you may have been exposed. For more info
  • PrEP is a medication taken daily that reduces the risk of becoming infected with HIV but does not prevent other sexually transmitted infections
  • Being on effective HIV treatment (TaSP) greatly reduces the risk of someone who is HIV positive passing on HIV


  • Most people develop detectable HIV antibodies within three months (the ‘window period’) of infection, the average being 20 days. In rare cases, it can take 6-12 months.
  • For this reason, it is recommended that testing regularly, three months after the last possible exposure, i.e. condomless vaginal or anal sex, or sharing needles.
  • There is now Rapid HIV testing with results available in under 30 minutes, however still requires a blood test to confirm the result. For more info


  • A regular blood test to monitor HIV activity and the immune system are performed at least quarterly


  • There is no cure, however the impact and progression of the virus can be managed with very effective antiretroviral medication, and people living with HIV are expected to live long and healthy lives equivalent to those living without HIV.
  • People on effective antiretroviral treatments are highly unlikely to pass on the virus

More information on HIV/AIDS. 

Further reading,%20viral%20hepatitis,%20STIs.pdf$File/ATSI-BBV-STI-Strategy2014-v3.pdf