STD Facts: HIV/AIDS - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Sexually Transmitted Disease Facts

HIV Infection and AIDS
(caused by human immunodeficiency virus or HIV)

On this page:
Signs and Symptoms
Pregnancy and HIV/AIDS
Testing and Treatment
For More Information

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Signs and Symptoms

HIV/AIDS Symptoms:

Early (weeks to months after exposure):

  • Flu-like illness
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Late (years after exposure)

  • Persistent fevers
  • Night sweats
  • Prolonged diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Purple bumps on skin or inside mouth and nose
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Recurrent respiratory infections

Note: These symptoms are not specific for HIV and may have other causes. Most persons with HIV have no symptoms at all for several years.


HIV is Spread by:

  • Vaginal sex
  • Oral sex
  • Anal sex
  • Sharing needles to inject drugs, body piercing or tattooing
  • Contaminated blood products (rare)
  • Infected mother to newborn at birth or through breastfeeding

HIV Infection Cannot Be Spread By:

  • Shaking hands
  • Swimming pools
  • A social kiss
  • Toilet seats
  • Cups
  • Food
  • Animals
  • Insects
  • Hugging
  • Coughing


  • HIV can spread to sex partners and persons sharing needles.
  • There is no cure for HIV and without treatment most people eventually die from the disease.

HIV/AIDS and pregnancy

  • HIV can be passed to unborn children from infected mother during pregnancy or childbirth.
  • Infected mother may infect infant through breast milk.


  • Avoiding vaginal, oral or anal sex is the best way to prevent STDs.
  • Limit the number of sex partners.
  • Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
  • Always use latex condoms during vaginal and anal sex.
  • Use a latex condom for oral sex on a penis.
  • Use a latex barrier (dental dam or condom cut in half) for oral sex on a vagina or anus.
  • Limit or avoid use of drugs and alcohol.
  • Don’t share drug needles, cotton or cookers.
  • Don’t share needles for tattooing or piercing.
  • Notify sex and needle-sharing partners immediately if HIV-infected.

Testing and Treatment

  • Tests are available to detect antibodies for HIV through physicians, STD clinics, and HIV counseling and testing sites.
  • There is no cure for HIV/AIDS.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment can prolong life for years.
  • Medications and treatments are available to keep immune system working.
  • Medications are available to treat AIDS-related illnesses.
  • Medications are available for HIV infected pregnant women to greatly reduce the chance of infection of newborn.
  • There are experimental drug trials testing new medications.

For more information, contact:

STD, HIV and TB Section
Minnesota Department of Health

Minnesota Family Planning and STD Hotline
1-800-783-2287 Voice/TTY; 651-645-9360 (Metro)

Minnesota AIDS Project AIDSLine
612-373-AIDS (Metro)
1-800-248-AIDS (State)
612-373-2465 TTY (Metro)
1-888-820-2437 TTY (State)

American Social Health Association (ASHA)

CDC National STD and AIDS Hotlines
1-800-CDC-INFO; 1-888-232-6348 TTY
1-800-344-7432 (Spanish)

Content Notice: This site contains HIV or STD prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Since HIV and other STDs are spread primarily through sexual practices or by sharing needles, prevention messages and programs may address these topics. If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please exit this web site.