HIV/AIDS: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

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Learning About and Living With HIV/AIDS

Since the world first became acquainted with AIDS more than 20 years ago, the research and literature available about the subject has grown in leaps and bounds. Just try typing “AIDS” into any search engine and you’ll be bombarded with thousands upon thousands of hits. By asking more specific questions about the subject, you can start using the Web to learn how to successfully live with the disease, talk to someone about HIV/AIDS, or get involved in activism organizations.

HIV/AIDS: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

If you or a friend or family member has recently been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, you probably have several questions that need answers. Living with HIV/AIDS can be a life-altering event, but with the right knowledge to work with, it is possible to feel more comfortable with the new world you’re facing. If you simply haven’t heard much about HIV or AIDS and want to learn more, check out the Web sites recommended in this section for a good overview.

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  • Understanding the terminology associated with HIV/AIDS is essential to making your research easier. HIV is the acronym for “Human Immunodeficiency Virus.” HIV may eventually develop into AIDS, which stands for “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.”
  • HIV testing can be completed in a variety of ways. Some Web sites offer the chance to find a testing center near you that conducts tests in the method you prefer.
  • There are myriad drugs and treatments available for HIV. Pharmaceutical companies’ Web sites can be very helpful in understanding what certain drugs do to treat the effects of HIV and AIDS, and often provide a list of potentially harmful interactions you should know about. But remember, these sites are also interested in promoting their products, so be sure to talk to your doctor to find out what treatment is best for you.
  • The major health-oriented Web sites have sections on HIV/AIDS. Visit our findingDulcinea Health Web Guide for our recommendations of such sites, and for help assessing the credibility of health sites.
  • Because one of the most common ways HIV is spread is through sexual activity, many HIV prevention efforts focus on safer sex practices. Be aware that some content you encounter may be very explicit in this regard.

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To learn about HIV/AIDS in general …
To learn about the history of HIV/AIDS …
To learn about HIV/AIDS prevention …
For HIV testing information …
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Living With HIV

Now that you know you are HIV positive, your medical care will become one of the most important aspects of your life. You’ll need to choose the right doctor to fit your needs, and begin to familiarize yourself with the medications that will help keep you healthy. All of this might seem intimidating, but there are Web sites that will give you suggestions to start managing your health.

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  • If you were recently diagnosed with HIV and have general questions about what HIV is or about risks you might face, review the Web sites recommended in the “HIV and AIDS: Causes, Prevention and Treatment” section of this guide.
  • Many of the sites recommended in the previous section have “Just Diagnosed” or “Recently Diagnosed” areas that can get you started in answering, “Where do I go from here?” The sites suggested below will help you answer some of the other, more specific questions you may have.
  • The findingDulcinea Health Web Guide recommends sites that will help you find a doctor and learn what kinds of questions to ask to get the most out of your visits.

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For advice about choosing a healthcare provider and starting HIV management …
For information on HIV medications …
For questions about HIV/AIDS and pregnancy …
To learn about the adoption of HIV positive children …
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Talking to Children About HIV and AIDS

It can be difficult to talk to kids about HIV and AIDS. You might be asking yourself: How do I explain things in a way the children will understand? How much information is too much? The Web can help you answer these questions.

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  • Think about your child’s age and maturity level when you're trying to decide how much to say about HIV/AIDS. Some of the recommended Web sites break down HIV/AIDS into age-appropriate levels designed to increase understanding without creating unnecessary fear of the disease.
  • Web sites that focus on talking to children about a variety of issues are helpful in discussing HIV/AIDS, but a health-oriented Web site will have the most complete medical information about HIV/AIDS to present to your child.

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HIV/AIDS Rights

People living with HIV/AIDS still encounter discrimination today: in the workplace, in healthcare institutions, from insurance agencies, and from society in general. Know your rights and find support groups to help you if you are a victim of discrimination, or help prepare your workplace to accommodate employees with HIV/AIDS.

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  • High medical costs and an inability to maintain employment due to illness can place particular strain on a person with HIV when it comes to keeping housing, or obtaining and maintaining insurance. Government Web sites (which have a “.gov” at the end of the Web address) or housing coalition Web sites can tell you what resources are available if you are experiencing housing and insurance problems.
  • If you’re an employer or a person with HIV who wants to make sure your office is compliant with established policies and practices, government Web sites are another good bet to find the latest information on workplace standards.

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For information about HIV/AIDS in the workplace …
To deal with matters of discrimination …
If you have questions about insurance coverage, medical privacy, and other benefits …
If you are looking for housing …
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HIV/AIDS Help

HIV/AIDS affects people in a multitude of ways; perhaps you’ve lost someone to the illness, or you’ve recently been diagnosed with HIV, or are simply trying to live a happy, successful life. Regardless of your circumstances, you will be able to find someone to share your feelings with about HIV/AIDS. The Web offers great online communities and the opportunity to find local support groups in your own community.

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  • Some of the Web sites mentioned in this guide, including AEGIS, The Body, AIDSmeds.com, and the National Pediatric AIDS Network have message boards, forums, or personal stories from people affected by or living with HIV/AIDS.
  • If you prefer talking with someone face to face rather than on the Web, try typing “HIV support groups” and your city name in a search engine to find support meetings in your area.

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HIV/AIDS Resources for Teenagers

If you have HIV or are concerned about how you can get HIV, the Internet can be a great place to answer your questions as long as you are careful about the types of information you read. Not all sites have good information, but we’ll help you sort out what you can use.

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  • Some questions are embarrassing to ask in person. The Web can be a great place to ask your health-related questions privately and, often, anonymously.
  • It’s important to make sure that the information you read about health issues is accurate. The sites listed here are all trustworthy but there are many more sites out there: some are reliable, some are biased, and some are just plain wrong. Check out the findingDulcinea Health Web Guide for a section on figuring out whether you can trust a particular site. One tip: government (usually indicated with a “.gov” at the end of the Web address) and nonprofit (“.org”) organizations will usually have credible information.

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World HIV/AIDS Issues

HIV/AIDS is a global disease that affects millions of people and brings to light an array of educational, human rights, and public safety considerations. The Web can take you to information with a specific regional focus, but also to sites with a statistical and global focus.

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  • For international HIV/AIDS research, much of what you find will likely focus on HIV/AIDS in Africa. If you are looking for information pertaining to other regions, try typing “HIV” or “AIDS” and the specific location you are researching into your favorite search engine.
  • Many sites focusing on HIV/AIDS at an international level focus on a particular cause such as human rights or awareness issues, but there are also sites with a statistical focus.

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AIDS Awareness

There is a general agreement that AIDS education and awareness are some of the best ways to prevent the spread of this disease. A variety of programs are available for individual and group involvement in AIDS awareness activities.

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  • If you are part of a group or community with specific needs regarding AIDS awareness, try using a more general Web site such as NAPWA.org or Projinf.org to find links to other Web sites that address your particular needs.

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