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World AIDS Day Is December 1

Are you at risk of HIV? Do you know how HIV is spread?

The virus can be found in the blood, semen and vaginal fluids of a person who is infected with HIV. Having unprotected sex, especially anal and vaginal intercourse, can put you at risk.

Sharing needles with an HIV positive drug user can also transmit the virus. A mother who is HIV-positive can transmit it to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or through breastfeeding. Getting a tattoo or body piercing with contaminated equipment can also pass on the virus.

An estimated 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV, including about 162,500 people who are unaware of their status. Nearly 40 percent of new HIV infections are transmitted by people who do not know they have the virus. For people with undiagnosed HIV, testing is the first step in maintaining a healthy life and reducing the spread of HIV.

The Roosevelt County Health Department screens for HIV at no charge to those who are at risk of HIV. Hepatitis C screening is also available. Please call the health department at 653-6223 as the number of tests available may be limited.

Montana can celebrate that 92 percent of the 700 persons living with HIV, and known to be in treatment in Montana, have undetectable viral loads, which improves and protects their health as well as their partners.

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