Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is a virus that affects the bodies ability to fight off infections. It is the virus that causes AIDS. Some people will not notice anything at all after becoming infected whilst others may experience a short 'seroconversion' illness between 2 to 12 weeks after transmission. Symptoms can be a fever, chills or a flu or you may not experience anything.
HIV is found in the sexual fluids of men and women, blood and in breast milk. You can become infected if you get any of these fluids from a positive person in your bloodstream. You cannot get HIV from kissing, shaking hands, touching, coughing, sneezing or sharing food or utensils. Although there is a small risk of exposure to blood through toothbrushes, razors and other personal items so it is recommended that you do not share these items.
There are medications to treat HIV and help people live long and healthy lives, but there is no cure at this time. It is important to see your doctor, get tested and if positive start treatment as early as possible.
Post Exposure Prevention
Post Exposure Prevention (PEP) is available if you have had a unsafe sexual experience or have come in contact with HIV. It is a treatment that will stop you getting HIV but needs to be given within 72 hours of the exposure and sooner the better, it 's available from all Clinic 34 and hospital emergency departments arcoss the NT.
Hepatitis, a general term referring to inflammation of the liver, may result from various causes, both infectious (ie, viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic organisms) and noninfectious (eg, alcohol, drugs, auto-immune diseases, and metabolic diseases).
Viral hepatitis is most commonly caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV and hepatitis C virus (HCV). These viruses can result in acute disease with symptoms of nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, malaise, jaundice and can lead to chronic infection. Patients who are chronically infected may go on to develop cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Chronic hepatitis carriers remain infectious and may transmit the disease for many years.
There are treatments available for both hepatitis B and C. It is important to see your doctor, get tested and if positive start treatment as early as possible.
There is also a preventative immunisation for hepatitis B which is available at Clinic 34 at no cost to the following:
- Unvaccinated people born on or after 1 August 1990.
- Sex industry workers
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Household contacts† and sexual partners‡ of people who have acute or chronic hepatitis B infection including families adopting children from overseas countries if child is HBsAg positive
- Men who have sex with men
- People who inject drugs
- HIV positive individuals and other immunocompromised persons
- People with chronic liver disease and/or Hepatitis C who are HBsAg negative Aboriginal people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
STIs have mild or no symptoms at all so you can have an STI and not even know it. Most STIs can be found by simple tests, many cases of STIs go undiagnosed and untreated, which can lead to serious health problems. STIs can be more difficult to treat in people with HIV, and the STI symptoms can be more severe. Some STIs can increase your viral load.
If you think you have come into contact with a BBV or STI see your doctor or clinic 34 for free and confidential testing. We recommend getting tested regularly for BBVs and STIs at least yearly and more often if you have multiple partners.