Health educators provide HIV/AIDS education to a group and individuals at schools, correctional facilities, health fairs, seminars and homes throughout the Orlando area. The education presented is delivered through the method of “INTERVENTIONS” that have been proven effective through years of research and studies that shows positive behavioral change and/or health outcomes. These interventions focus on the transmission of HIV/STIs, risk-reduction behaviors, effective communication, and condom use.

HIV/AIDS 101: THE BASICS

Every 9½ minutes, someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV. It is estimated that there are over 56,000 new cases of HIV in the U.S. each year. It is estimated that 1.7 million people in the U.S. have been infected with HIV since 1981 and approximately 1.1 million Americans are currently living with the infection.

NO VACCINE AVAILABLE
No cure exists for HIV, but strict adherence to anti-retroviral regimens (ARVs) can dramatically slow the disease’s progress as well as prevent secondary infections and complications.

HOW YOU GET IT

HIV can only be transmitted from an infected person to another through direct contact of bodily fluids such as:

  • Blood (including menstrual blood)
  • Semen / cum / precum / ejaculate
  • Vaginal secretions
  • Breast milk

By having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex.

SYMPTOMS

  • Pain areas: in the abdomen
  • Pain circumstances: can occur while swallowing
  • Cough: can be dry
  • Whole body: fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, malaise, night sweats, or sweating
  • Gastrointestinal: nausea, persistent diarrhea, comiting, or watery diarrhea
  • Mouth: ulcers or white tongue
  • Groin: sores or swelling
  • Throat: difficulty swallowing or soreness

HOW WE TEST FOR IT

Miracle of Love, Inc. provides the free confidential HIV testing with CHEMBIO which is a rapid test that uses one drop of blood by pricking the finger with a lancet and results given in 15 minutes. If the test results are Reactive or preliminary positive, then a confirmatory test is done through a blood draw and the blood sample is sent to a laboratory for the screening of the HIV antibodies and results come back in 2 weeks.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. This virus may be passed from one person to another when infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions come in contact with an uninfected person’s broken skin or mucous membranes*. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast-feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Some of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.

HIV-1 is the most widespread type worldwide. HIV-2, a less prevalent and less pathogenic (disease-causing) type, is found principally in western Africa. Large genetic differences between HIV-1 and HIV-2 mean that tests keyed to one will not reliably detect the other.

HIV-1 and HIV-2 are two different viruses. HIV-1 is the main family of HIV and accounts for 95% of all infections worldwide. HIV-2 is mainly seen in a few West African countries. The spread in the rest of the world is negligible. Although HIV-2 generally progresses more slowly than HIV-1, some HIV drugs (like nevirapine and efavirenz) do not work against HIV-2.

On a structural level HIV-1 and HIV-2 have important genetic differences. A technical description of the difference is that the vpu gene found in HIV- 1 is replaced by the vpx gene in HIV-2. In addition, the protease enzymes from the two viruses, which are aspartic acid proteases and have been found to be essential for maturation of the infectious particle, share about 50% sequence identity. There are, however, differences in substrate and inhibitor binding between these enzymes. Most notably between the CGP 53820 inhibitory binding.
On functional level, there is a difference between the two viruses in terms of how easy it is for the virus to infect someone. HIV-1 enters the immune system by attaching onto the CD4+ receptor found on the surface of certain white blood cells. HIV-2 has a harder time gaining such a foothold.
Both viruses are fragile and highly susceptible to physical and chemical agents and therefore do not survive well outside the human body. HIV in blood or sexual fluid for example is not infectious after it has been outside the body for a few minutes.

HIV spreads through contact with blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or the breast milk of an infected person.

Transmission can occur through:
Unprotected sex (sex without a condom), that involves anal, vaginal or oral penetration
The sharing of used syringes or needles
Maternal transfer from an HIV positive woman to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding (The chance of having a healthy baby can be greatly increased with proper medical care during and after pregnancy).

It is also possible to become infected with HIV through a blood transfusion, although this is now very rare. Blood transfusions and medical procedures in the U.S. are safe. Giving blood is completely risk-free. Although there have been some cases of HIV transmission through blood transfusions in the past, tests have been in place for several years to make sure that the blood you get in the hospital contains no HIV.
HIV cannot be passed on from one person to another through casual contact. There is no risk of infection when we share everyday items such as food, dishes, utensils, clothes, beds and toilets with an HIV positive individual. The virus is not spread from contact with sweat, tears, saliva, or a casual kiss from an infected person (deep, or “French” kissing is not advised). People do not become infected from eating food prepared by an HIV-infected person. People have not become infected with HIV through insect bites.

People newly infected with HIV will experience some “flu-like” symptoms. These symptoms, which usually last no more than a few days, might include fevers, chills, night sweats and rashes.

Anyone can become infected with HIV regardless of age, gender, sexual identity (straight, gay or bisexual), financial status, and racial/ethnic identity. Your risk comes from what activities you do, and who you do it with – that is, how likely it is that the person you have sex or share needles with is infected. But even if you are part of a community with a high infection rate, you can avoid getting HIV. Preventing infection involves reducing your risks by thinking, planning and follow-through. Often it means talking about things that may make you uncomfortable. It can help to “practice” talking with people you can trust or who are going through the same thing.

Standard HIV tests look for HIV antibodies, which are proteins the body makes after HIV enters the blood. It can take up to three months to make enough antibodies to be detectable on the test, although in most cases, infection can be detected in four to six weeks following infection. If the test is taken too soon after exposure to infection during the “window period”, the test results may be negative for HIV antibodies. HIV can still be transmitted during the window period. There are different kinds of blood tests, including a new test that can give you quicker results and tests that look for the virus instead of antibodies.

People with HIV or AIDS can do a number of things to stay healthy, which is why it is important to know your status. People who test positive for HIV infection can stay healthy for many years. Although there is no cure for HIV infection, antiretroviral drugs can slow down the disease progression. There are medications that can slow down virus activity and help maintain your immune system. See your doctor so that he or she can watch your health closely. Always use care not to pass HIV onto others.

AIDS is caused by infection with a virus called human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Some of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.

The time it takes for a person who has been infected with HIV to test positive for HIV antibodies is called the “Window Period”. When a person is infected with the HIV virus they develop antibodies within 12 weeks (3-months).

WHAT IS AIDS?

AIDS is the medical diagnosis given to the most advanced stage of HIV infection. The criteria for diagnosis of AIDS varies from country to country. In general, the criteria for the definition of AIDS includes all HIV-infected people who have fewer than 200 CD4+ T cells per cubic millimeter of blood.

(Healthy adults usually have CD4+ T-cell counts of 1,000 or more.) The definition usually also includes clinical conditions that affect people with advanced HIV disease. Most of these conditions are opportunistic infections, which rarely cause harm in healthy people. In people with AIDS, these infections are often severe and sometimes fatal because the immune system is so ravaged by HIV that the body cannot fight off certain bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and other microbes. Some examples of Opportunistic Infections include: Candiadis (Thrush), Pneumocystis Pneumonia (PCP), Tuberculosis, Karposi Sarcoma and Herpes Simplex Virus. Check with your local health agency to get a full list of Opportunistic Infections common in people with AIDS.

AIDS is caused by infection with a virus called human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Some of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.

AIDS is a medical diagnosis and can not be transmitted. Individuals who are diagnosed with AIDS are still HIV positive and it is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that is transmitted from person to person. Please refer to the HIV transmission section of HIV/AIDS Basics on this website.

The most effective form of HIV/AIDS treatment is medication called Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). There are a number of ART medications that work directly on the virus and stop it from replicating itself in your body and allow your immune system to stay healthy. The combination of medications help individuals keep their HIV disease under control. By living a healthy lifestyle, recieving the right combination of medication and visiting your healthcare provider regularly, HIV can be a chronic, manageable disease.

SEXUALLY TRASMITTED INFECTIONS

Sexually Transmitted Infections or STI’s, are commonly diagnosed in the Orlando community – and a lot of people don’t know they have them. If you’re hooking up with multiple partners, or if the person you’re sleeping with has had multiple partners, the chances are high that you’ll likely contract and STI at some point while you’re sexually active. If you’re on PrEP, PrEP only works to protect against HIV – it doesn’t have your back at all for STIs. The most effective way to prevent contracting an STI is to use condoms correctly.

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STI in the United States.

NO VACCINE AVAILABLE
YOU CAN BECOME REINFECTED

Where you can get it:
Mouth, Penis, Anus, Vagina

HOW YOU GET IT

When infected fluids from the discharge come in contact with your mucous membranes, or ‘pink-parts’ (inside the tip of your penis, throat, inside the anus, etc).

SYMPTOMS

  • If symptoms do present themselves in men, there may be:

    • A discharge from the penis
    • A burning sensation when you pee
    • Pain and swelling in one or both balls (although this is less common)

HOW WE TEST FOR IT

Miracle of Love, Inc. conducts FREE Chlamydia Screenings in Orlando by the following method:

  • Urine Specimen

HOW IS TREATED

Chlamydia can be easily cured with antibiotics. HIV-positive persons with chlamydia should receive the same treatment as those who are HIV-negative.

THE LINK WITH HIV

Having an STI changes the cells lining the vagina, penis, rectum or mouth. This makes it easier for HIV to enter your body. If you already have an STI, you are MORE likely to get infected with HIV if you have sex with someone who has HIV and you don’t use a condom. If you feel you have an STI, you should also be tested for HIV if you believe you’re HIV negative.

Anyone who is sexually active can get Gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can cause very serious complications when not treated, but can be cured with the right medication.

NO VACCINE AVAILABLE
YOU CAN BECOME REINFECTED

Where you can get it:
Mouth, Penis, Anus, Vagina

HOW YOU GET IT

When infected fluids from the discharge come in contact with your mucous membranes, or ‘pink-parts’ (inside the tip of your penis, throat, inside the anus, etc).

SYMPTOMS

  • If symptoms do present themselves in men, there may be:

    • A burning sensation when you pee
    • A white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis
    • Pain and swelling in one or both balls (although this is less common)

HOW WE TEST FOR IT

Miracle of Love, Inc. conducts FREE Gonorrhea Screenings in Orlando by the following method:

  • Urine Specimen

HOW IS TREATED

Gonorrhea can be easily cured with antibiotics. HIV-positive persons with gonorrhea should receive the same treatment as those who are HIV-negative.

THE LINK WITH HIV

Having an STI changes the cells lining the vagina, penis, rectum or mouth. This makes it easier for HIV to enter your body. If you already have an STI, you are MORE likely to get infected with HIV if you have sex with someone who has HIV and you don’t use a condom. If you feel you have an STI, you should also be tested for HIV if you believe you’re HIV negative.

Syphilis makes you 5 times more likely to contract HIV if you’re exposed to it because of the sores associated with Syphilis.

NO VACCINE AVAILABLE
YOU CAN BECOME REINFECTED

Where you can get it:
Mouth, Penis, Anus, Vagina

HOW YOU GET IT

Symptoms in the first stage of Syphilis are:

  • A painless syphilis sore that can look similar to an ingrown hair, blister, zipper cut, or other seemingly harmless bump that will usually last 3-6 weeks

Symptoms in the second stage of Syphilis are:

  • A non-itchy body rash that develops on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, all over your body, or in just a few places

SYMPTOMS

  • If symptoms do present themselves in men, there may be:

    • A burning sensation when you pee
    • A white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis
    • Pain and swelling in one or both balls (although this is less common)

HOW WE TEST FOR IT

Miracle of Love, Inc. conducts FREE Syphilis Testing in Orlando by:

  • A single tube of blood
  • A rapid test (if available)

HOW IS TREATED

Syphilis can be cured with the right antibiotics. HIV-positive persons with Syphilis should receive the same treatment as those who are HIV-negative.

THE LINK WITH HIV

Genital sores (chancres) caused by syphilis make it easier to transmit and acquire HIV infection sexually. There is an estimated 2- to 5-fold increased risk of acquiring HIV if exposed to that infection when syphilis is present.

About one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years

have genital herpes.

NO VACCINE AVAILABLE
YOU CAN BECOME REINFECTED

Where you can get it:
Mouth, Penis, Anus, Vagina

HOW YOU GET IT

By having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the disease. Fluids found in a herpes sore carry the virus, and contact with those fluids can cause infection.

Symptoms in the second stage of Syphilis are:

  • Sores that usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, butt or mouth.
  • Blisters break and leave painful sores that may take weeks to heal.

SYMPTOMS

  • Sores that usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, butt or mouth.
  • Blisters break and leave painful sores that may take weeks to heal.

HOW WE TEST FOR IT

For testing, you’ll need to see your primary care doctor.

HOW IS TREATED

There’s no cure for herpes. However, there are medicines that can prevent or shorten outbreaks. One of these herpes medicines can be taken daily, and makes it less likely that you will pass the infection on to your sex partner(s).

THE LINK WITH HIV

Genital herpes can cause sores or breaks in the skin or lining of the mouth, vagina, and rectum. The genital sores caused by herpes can bleed easily. When the sores come into contact with the mouth, vagina, or rectum during sex, they increase the risk of giving or getting HIV if you or your partner has HIV. If you feel you have an STI, you should also be tested for HIV if you believe you’re HIV negative.

HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.

A VACCINE IS AVAILABLE
The vaccine is recommended for any man who has sex with men through age 26

Where you can get it:
Mouth, Penis, Anus, Vagina

HOW YOU GET IT

By having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the disease. Fluids found in a herpes sore carry the virus, and contact with those fluids can cause infection.

SYMPTOMS

  • In most cases, HPV doesn’t have any symptoms, goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems.

    • Some people find out they have HPV when they get genital warts or even cancer

HOW WE TEST FOR IT

There is no test to find out a person’s “HPV status.” Also, there is no approved HPV test to find HPV in the mouth or throat.

HOW IS TREATED

There’s no treatment for the virus itself. However, there are treatments for the health problems that HPV can cause like genital warts. See your primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic if you think you have HPV.

THE LINK WITH HIV

People with weak immune systems (including individuals with HIV/AIDS) may be less able to fight off HPV and more likely to develop health problems from it.