What is HIV/AIDS? 169
What to do if you have an STI
If you or your partner have signs of an STI:
• start treatment right away. Early treatment will protect you from more serious
problems later on, and will prevent the spread of infection to others.
• get tested, if possible. Go to a clinic or health
center where you can be tested to know which
STI you have. This way you will not have to take
medicines you do not need. If it is not possible
to get tested, you may have to take several
medicines. Try to talk with an experienced
health worker about treatment.
• help your partner get treated at the same time
you do. If he does not, he will infect you again
if you have sex. Urge him to take the proper
medicine or to see a health worker.
• make sure you take all the medicine, even if
your signs start to go away. Do not buy only part of the medicine. You (or your
partner) will not be cured until you have taken all the required medicine (see
• practice safer sex. If you do not protect yourself, you can always get another STI
(see pages 180 to 182).
What is HIV/AIDS?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a very small germ you cannot see that weakens
the immune system, the part of the body that fights off infection and disease. HIV is
most often spread from one person to another during sex. If a man passes HIV to a
pregnant woman, or if a pregnant woman is already infected with HIV,
the virus can also pass to a baby during pregnancy, during the birth, or
during breastfeeding. For more information about the ways someone can
and cannot be infected with HIV, see pages 170 to 171.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a disease that
develops some time after a person has been infected with HIV.
A person is said to have AIDS when he or she starts to get many
common health problems more often than usual. Some signs of AIDS
are losing weight, sores that will not heal, a bad cough, sweating at
night, diarrhea, skin rashes, a fever, discharge from the vagina, or
feeling very tired all the time. But all of these problems can have other
causes. You cannot be sure a person has HIV/AIDS without a special
blood test—see page 172.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007