About HIV

Quick facts about HIV

HIV symptoms

Am I at risk for HIV?

Testing is the only way to know for sure

If you have HIV

Managing HIV

Reducing the risk of HIV infection

More ways you can help stop the spread of HIV

Next steps

Quick facts about HIV

HIV is a virus that reduces your body’s ability to fight infections.


If HIV is left untreated, it can escalate to AIDS. AIDS can be life-threatening.


Getting tested is the only way to know whether you have HIV.


While there is no cure for HIV, the virus can be managed with medical care, treatment, and a healthy lifestyle.

HIV symptoms

Knowing the symptoms of HIV is important. However, people with HIV usually don’t have symptoms for at least 2–4 weeks. In fact, many won’t experience symptoms for months or even years.

Experiencing symptoms alone does not mean that you have HIV. Alternatively, you may not have any symptoms of HIV but still be infected with the virus. Therefore, it’s important to get tested to confirm whether you have HIV.

Most common HIV symptoms Less common HIV symptoms
Fever Headache
Enlarged or swollen lymph nodes Nausea and vomiting
Sore throat Enlarged liver/spleen
Rash Weight loss
Muscle pain Thrush (yeast infection in the mouth)
Sores in mouth and throat Neurological symptoms
Feeling unwell in general  

Am I at risk for HIV?

Anyone of any sexual orientation, age, or race can get HIV.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the risk of HIV is higher for:

  • Gay or bisexual men
  • Injection drug users
  • People with more than one sex partner

Know where you stand.

Take this simple quiz to find out if you’re at a greater risk for HIV.

The CDC currently recommends that all people between the ages of 13 to 64 get tested for HIV at least once.

Testing is the only way to know for sure

Learn more about HIV tests and treatment.

If you think you may have been exposed to the virus, talk to your doctor about getting tested. A blood test for HIV can confirm whether you’re HIV-positive.

Only an HIV screening can confirm whether someone is infected with HIV. Testing is for everyone!


Take action. Get tested.


to order an HIV test for you.


for testing at a Quest Diagnostics Patient Service Center near you.

If you have HIV

There is currently no cure for HIV. If you're infected, you will always carry the virus in your body.

However, advancements in treatment make it possible to live a full, healthy life with HIV.


This means that it is still possible to infect others if they are exposed to your:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal secretions
  • Breast milk

The good news is that treatment for HIV can suppress the virus and limit the risk of passing the disease on to others.


If you are HIV-positive, you should immediately share your HIV status with the people you may have exposed to the virus and discuss treatment options with your doctor.

Managing HIV

To live a healthy life while infected with HIV:

Get early access to medical care and treatment.
Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
Take early action against the virus with HIV treatment to help prevent progression to AIDS and other related life-threatening conditions.

Reducing the risk of HIV infection

Testing negative for HIV is a relief. However, to reduce your risk of HIV in the future, those with a higher risk of HIV exposure are generally advised to get tested every year. More frequent testing (i.e, every 3 to 6 months) may be beneficial for sexually active gay or bisexual men.

Here are some ways to reduce your HIV risk:

Use condoms during anal and vaginal sex.

Always use specially designed barriers during oral sex.

Limit your number of sex partners.

Don’t share needles if you inject drugs or medication.

If your lifestyle or profession puts you at a higher risk of future exposure: Ask your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP (a pill that helps prevent HIV before exposure). HIV testing is still important before and during PrEP treatment.

More ways you can help stop the spread of HIV

HIV is spread through HIV-infected blood, semen, vaginal secretions,
and/or breast milk.

Getting tested is the best way that you can personally help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS. Other powerful ways you can promote prevention include:

Starting conversations to help raise awareness of HIV testing
Supporting events like the annual AIDS Walk in cities
around the United States