What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

What is AIDS?

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

What are the symptoms of HIV?

After being infected with HIV/AIDS, most people have no symptoms although a few will experience flu-like symptoms for 2-6 weeks.

Individuals may remain symptom free for 8 or 9 years! Once the virus begins attacking your body's white blood cells, and the immune system becomes weaker, chronic symptoms begin to appear such as:

As HIV progresses to later stages and develops into AIDS, the symptoms above become more persistent and severe, and a few others develop such as:

How is HIV spread?

The virus is transmitted through unprotected sexual contact, sharing needles, and from an infected mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

The most common way of transmission in Belize is through heterosexual intercourse.

HIV is not an air-borne, water-borne, or food-borne virus. It cannot be spread by mosquito bites, shaking hands, or using toilets.

How can I protect myself against HIV/AIDS?

Who can get HIV?

HIV does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, of any race, age, gender, and ethnicity, regardless of sexual preference. Some behavior, such as having sex without condoms, having multiple sex partners, having sex partners who have sex with other persons without using condoms, and sharing un-sterilized needles for intravenous drug use, increases the risk of being infected.

The highest rate of infection in Belize is in the 15-24 year old age group.

How can I tell if someone has HIV or AIDS?

You cannot tell by looking at someone, talking to someone, or having sex with someone if they are infected with HIV. People can live many years without even knowing themselves that they are infected. The only way to know if someone has HIV or AIDS is after being tested.

What do I do if I may have HIV or AIDS?

(Source: Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC)/PAHO/WHO)

Read the statistics on HIV/AIDS in Belize