How does HIV/AIDS affect you? | Western Cape Government

How does HIV/AIDS affect you?

Today there are more ways than ever to prevent HIV. Apart from abstinence, limiting your number of sexual partners, never sharing needles, and using condoms the right way every time you have sex can protect you from contracting HIV.

If you’re HIV+, there are many ways that you can prevent passing it to others. The most important is to take your medicine (called antiretroviral therapy, or ART) to treat HIV. ARVs can keep you healthy for many years and will reduce your chance of transmitting HIV to your partner.

How can you prevent getting HIV? Close up of a young man carrying his girlfriend

Abstinence is the only 100% way to prevent being infected with HIV. 

Abstinence means not having oral, vaginal or anal sex. This way you’ll be sure not to be infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 

How is HIV spread?

HIV is spread from a person infected with HIV to another person in the following body fluids, 

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Pre-seminal fluids
  • Rectal fluids
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Breast milk

Take precaution and treat all blood and body fluids as infected. Use gloves when handling body fluids. 

How can you prevent getting HIV from sex?

The more of these actions you take, the safer you can be.

How can you prevent mother to child transmission? A photo of pregnant woman with man. Smiling man touching woman's abdomen. They are wearing casuals.

Mother-to-child transmission of HIV is the most common way young children contract the virus. It happens when HIV is passed from a mother to her unborn baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. 

An effective Prevention of Mother to Child Transmissions (PMTCT) programme requires mothers and their babies to:

•    Receive antenatal services and HIV testing during pregnancy.
•    Have access to antiretroviral treatment (ART).
•    Practice safe childbirth practices and appropriate infant feeding.
•    Make use of infant HIV testing and other post-natal healthcare services.

Read more about Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT)

What is antiretroviral therapy?

Antiretrovirals are medicines given to people with HIV to suppress the virus in their blood. They are not a cure for HIV/AIDS. They lower the level of the virus in the blood. This allows the immune system to recover (the CD4 count may increase). People taking antiretrovirals may find that their appetite improves, they pick up weight and problems they had, such as diarrhoea or skin rashes, clear up. 

If antiretrovirals are taken reliably and correctly, the medicines can reduce the virus to a level in the blood when it can no longer be measured (undetectable).

Voluntary Testing and Counselling

An HIV test is an accurate scientific test to show if a person has been infected with HIV and is usually done on a person's blood. Most testing sites use a Rapid Test, which means that the test results are available after about 20 minutes.

The decision to be tested is a voluntary one - no one can force you to have an HIV test. The 3 main steps you should follow when you decide to get tested are,

  • pre-test counselling,
  • testing and
  • post-test counselling.

Here is a list of clinics in the Western Cape

Read more about the management of HIV/AIDS in schools and the rights and responsibilities of learners, educators and parents.

What is Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)?

Get tested today, and help us build an HIV-free generation

World AIDS Day is commemorated every year on 1 December and it's an opportunity for us to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV and remember those who have passed away. World AIDS Day will be marking its 30th Anniversary this year with the theme "Know your status". Follow #CheckaImpilo #KnowYourStatus #WAD2018 and show your support.

Read more about South Africa’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB And STIs 2017-2022


The content on this page was last updated on 29 November 2018