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Who is at Risk for HIV?

Q: Can you tell me who is at risk for HIV? I’ve been associating with certain people that I’m concerned may be infected and I’m worried that I can contract it from them.  Can you tell me what/who I should be worried about?

A: The truthful answer is that everyone is at risk for HIV, but certain groups of people are certainly at a higher risk. The groups of people that are at highest risk are intravenous drug users and men who have sex with men. You see, HIV is a virus that needs a break in your skin in order to be successfully transmitted. Using intravenous drugs and participating in anal sex are likely ways to cause openings or tears in the skin that allow that pathway.

Just because someone has HIV does not mean that you have to stop seeing them, it just means you need to be safe with them. Like I said earlier, HIV needs a direct pathway to your bloodstream in order to transmit. You will not contract it from hugging, shaking hands, them sneezing or coughing around you, and certainly not from sharing a toilet seat.

If you feel that you may have been exposed to the virus, it is important that you seek testing as soon as possible. There are tests for early detection of HIV, such as the HIV DNA PCR, and there are also tests for past exposures, such as the ELISA antibody test. For more information about these tests, or if you have questions about your exposure risk, please contact our office to speak with a counselor at your convenience. We can help you decide if you need to test, and what to test for.