What is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. If it’s not treated, HIV can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Currently, there is no cure. But with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. People with HIV who get effective HIV treatment can live long, healthy lives and protect their partners.


Most people get flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks after infections. Initial symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. However, having these symptoms alone doesn’t mean you have HIV, and some people actually have no symptoms at all.

Diagnosing HIV

The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested. Knowing your HIV status can help you make healthy decisions to prevent getting or transmitting HIV. Most HIV tests are quick, free, and painless.

HCC Network provides HIV tests that can be conducted in the hospital setting or self-administered.

How HIV Spreads

Most people who get HIV get infected through anal or vaginal sex, or through sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment. However, there are many powerful tools that can help prevent HIV transmission.

HCC Network provides HIV-prevention medicines like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), as well as condoms, lube that can help prevent the spread of HIV, individual lip balms to prevent sharing, and sharps containers for safe needle disposal.

For more information, please contact an HCC Community Health Worker.

Note, the information on this page is sourced from the CDC as of August 2023. For the latest information on HIV, visit the CDC website here.