Get the Facts About HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C | Regional HIV/AIDS Connection

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Get the Facts About HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C

What is HIV/AIDS?

  • HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus - a virus that weakens the immune system. The immune systems of people living with HIV may not allow them to fight off infections as well as people who do not have HIV (who are HIV negative).
  • AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome - an advanced form of the disease caused by HIV. Not all people living with HIV will develop AIDS.
  • HIV is mainly spread by having unprotected anal or vaginal sex (intercourse) or by sharing needles.
  • Currently, there is no vaccine and no cure for HIV/AIDS.

There are five bodily fluids that can have enough HIV to transmit the virus:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Anal fluids/mucous
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Breast milk
For you to acquire HIV, one of these fluids must contain the HIV virus and directly enter your bloodstream through activities such as condomless sex, breast/chestfeeding (in the case of infants), and using substances via injection, among others.  

Looking for more information? Contact our Education team or book a presentation with us.

For additional information about HIV/AIDS in both English and French, please visit the website of Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE) - Canada's source for HIV and hepatitis C information.

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C (Hep C) is a chronic liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV causes inflammation and scarring of the liver.

Hepatitis C is only passed through blood. The blood of a person living with the Hepatitis C virus must enter your blood stream for you to contract HCV. Currently, there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is NOT spread through any other bodily fluids such as:

  • saliva
  • sweat
  • semen
  • vaginal fluids
  • urine
  • breast milk, etc.

Hep C Prevention:

  • Do not share equipment for drug snorting or injection.
  • Do not share personal items that may have tiny amounts of blood on them such as razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, etc.
  • Discuss the fact that you have HCV with your sex partner(s).
  • Use a latex condom or dental dam when having sex, particularly if having sex with a woman who is on her period.
  • Clean blood spills with soap, water and disinfectant.
  • Bandage over cuts and sores until healed.
  • Tell people who come in contact with your blood that you have hepatitis C.
  • Do not donate blood, organs, etc.
  • Tattooing is safest in a professional studio with a sterilizer, sterile equipment and needles and new ink.

For additional information about Hepatitis C in both English and French, please visit - Canada's source for Hepatitis C information.