Resource Directory

HIV/AIDS Defined:

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus): the virus that causes AIDS by killing or damaging cells of the body’s immune system. HIV progressively destroys the body’s ability to fight infections and certain cancers.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome): the late stage of HIV infection, characterized by a deterioration of the immune system and a susceptibility to a range of opportunistic infections and cancers.

Initial reports on HIV/AIDS:

In June 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the first cases of a rare form of pneumonia in young gay men, later diagnosed as AIDS-related; the CDC also issued reports on highly unusual occurrence of rare skin cancer, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, among young gay men. By 1983, heterosexuals were considered at risk for the first time after two women whose sexual partners had AIDS contracted the disease.

The Global Challenge:

There is no country on the planet that has reported a case of HIV that can claim they have stopped the spread of HIV virus. AIDS kills more people than any other infectious disease and HIV is rapidly becoming a women’s epidemic.

 HIV/AIDS Has No Boundaries -

Highest rates of new HIV infection in the U.S. include:

  • Gay identified men, especially those less than 25 years old of all races
  • African Americans, especially women, youth & men who have sex with men (gay and non-gay identified)
  • Latinos/Latinas, especially women, youth & men who have sex with men (gay and non-gay identified)
  • Injection Drug Users (IDUs) and Female Partners of IDUs

The Local Challenge:

  • 70% of the reported AIDS cases in Illinois are in Chicago (CDPH, 2008)

Transmission and Prevention:

The HIV virus spreads from person to person through blood-to-blood or sexual contact with someone who has the virus. A mother living with HIV can pass the virus on to her baby during pregnancy, delivery or through breast milk. The virus does not spread from person to person by casual everyday contact and is not spread through the water or air.

Body Fluids containing HIV

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal Fluids
  • Breast Milk
  • Other body fluids containing blood

You can contract HIV by:

Sharing needles and syringes with someone who is living with HIV. By having unprotected anal, vaginal, and oral sex with someone who has the virus. A newborn’s exposure to his or her HIV positive mother during pregnancy, birth or through breast feeding.

HIV Testing Defined:

Anonymous testing means that names are not recorded, and only the people getting tested can find out their own test results.

Confidential testing means that, although test results will be recorded, no one can give them out without permission of the people tested, except as required by state law.

HIV Infection Defined:

HIV attacks the body’s defenses. After entering the body, the virus starts to destroy cells (T cells/CD4 and other white blood cells) that defend against germs, bacteria and diseases. With a weakened immune system, the virus multiplies and starts to infect organs throughout the body, damaging other body systems.

After infection, people with HIV often develop symptoms similar to those of the flu, which may be longer than the usual 10-12 days. Thereafter, they may be free of symptoms, or they may have severe or prolonged fevers, lymph glands that stay swollen, diarrhea, lingering fatigue and persistent night sweats. After time, many people living with HIV develop AIDS, making them susceptible to diseases that most people could resist.


Scientists believe that half the people who have HIV will develop AIDS within 10 years after becoming infected if they do not receive treatment. Combination anti-retroviral drug therapy has been shown to slow the progression in some people, extending and improving their quality of life.

AIDS Diagnosed:

Before making a diagnosis of AIDS, doctors count the number of T cells/CD4 in the blood. AIDS is defined as a CD4/T cell count below 200, opportunistic infections such as Pneumocystis carnii pneumonia, tuberculosis, Kaposi's sarcoma or invasive cervical cancer in women are indicators of a HIV compromised immune system.

What You Can Do:

  • Take an HIV test and get your results.
  • On campus contact the Wellness/Health Center
  • Off campus contact the State of Illinois HIV/AIDS/STD hotline at 1-800-243-2437 to find testing facilities throughout Illinois
  • Share accurate info on HIV/AIDS with your friends and family
  • Volunteer with an AIDS Service Organization