HIV, AIDS: Know the facts

World AIDS Day takes place Dec. 1 of each year to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. HIV may not be the mainstream news that it once was, but it is still affecting thousands of people in this country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there are 56,000 new cases of HIV each year in the U.S.

So why should college students care? Half of all new HIV infections are diagnosed in people under 25. The CDC estimates that 1 in 500 college students are HIV positive.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). HIV is primarily transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. Unprotected oral, vaginal and anal sex can put a person at risk for HIV, as well as sharing needles for drug use. Using condoms during sex and not sharing needles are easy ways to reduce the risk for HIV.

To know your status, it is important to be tested. The CDC recommends that everyone have at least one HIV test. If you engage in activities that increase your risk (like unprotected sex), you should be tested more often.  Speak to your clinician about your risks and how often you should get tested. To find a testing site near you, text your zip code to KNOWIT (566948).

Visit for more information about HIV/AIDS.