Health & Wellness
HIV / AIDS
HIV / AIDS ORGANIZATIONS
AIDS Committee of Windsor
511 Pelissier Street
AIDS Committee of Windsor (ACW) is a registered charity that provides support, education and outreach services for people at risk of, or living with HIV or AIDS. Services include harm reduction training for service providers and service users and social opportunities.
HIV Care Clinic
1275 Walker Road, Unit #10
Windsor, Ontario N8W 1E3
Our team consists of physicians and nurses as well as a pharmacist, psychologist, dietitian, and program secretary. We hope to build a trusting relationship with you and the people who are important to you.
Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
1005 Ouellette Avenue
Windsor, Ontario, N9A 4J8
Public health programs keep our community healthy by promoting improved health, preventing disease and injury, controlling threats to human life and function, and facilitating social conditions to ensure equal opportunity in attaining health for all.
Our Health Unit, in partnership with other agencies and health care providers, seeks to enable all Windsor and Essex County residents to be as healthy as possible.
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HIV / AIDS INFORMATION
What is HIV & AIDS?
HIV (or Human Immunodeficiency Virus) weakens your immune system, your body’s built-in defence against disease and illness. Anyone can be infected with HIV. You can have HIV without knowing it. You may not look or feel sick for years, but you can still pass the virus on to other people.
Without HIV treatment, your immune system can become too weak to fight off serious illnesses. HIV can also damage other parts of your body. Eventually, you can become sick with life-threatening infections. This is the most serious stage of HIV infection, called AIDS (or Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome).
There is no vaccine to prevent HIV. There is no cure for HIV… but there is treatment. There is no cure for HIV, but with proper care and treatment, most people with HIV can avoid getting AIDS and can stay healthy for a long time. Anti-HIV drugs have to be taken every day. They cannot get rid of HIV but they can keep it under control.
For more on HIV treatments, please see:
Treatments – an overview of all the main questions about HIV treatment (when to start, what to use and how to make it work) from Managing Your Health, CATIE’s guide for people living with HIV.
CATIE’s Treatment section for much more information for you to explore.
How does HIV get passed from one person to another?
Only five body fluids can contain enough HIV to infect someone: blood, semen (including pre-cum), rectal fluid, vaginal fluid and breast milk.
HIV can only get passed when one of these fluids from a person with HIV gets into the bloodstream of another person—through broken skin, the opening of the penis or the wet linings of the body, such as the vagina, rectum or foreskin.
HIV cannot pass through healthy, unbroken skin.
The two main ways that HIV can get passed between you and someone else are:
through unprotected sex (anal or vaginal sex without a condom
by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs (including steroids)
HIV can also be passed:
by sharing needles or ink to get a tattooby sharing needles or jewellery to get a body piercing
by sharing acupuncture needles
to a fetus or baby during pregnancy, birth or breast-feeding
HIV cannot be passed by:
talking, shaking hands, working or eating with someone who has HIV
hugs or kisses
coughs or sneezes
toilet seats or water fountains
bed sheets or towels
forks, spoons, cups or food
insects or animals
For more on how HIV is transmitted, please visit CATIE’s How transmission occurs page.
HIV & Sex
HIV can be passed during unprotected sex.
vaginal or anal sex without a condom
oral sex without a condom or dental dam (a piece of latex used to cover the vulva or anus)
sharing sex toys
Oral sex is not as risky as vaginal or anal sex, but it’s not completely safe.
Protect yourself and your partner(s) from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
You can have sex with little or no risk of passing on or getting HIV. This is called safer sex. Safer sex also helps protect you and your partner(s) from other STIs, such as gonorrhea and syphilis.
People can have HIV or other STIs without knowing it because these infections often do not cause symptoms. You could have HIV or another STI and not know it. Also, don’t assume that your partner know(s) whether they have HIV or any other STI. The only way to know for sure is to be tested.
To practise safer sex…
Use a latex or polyurethane condom correctly every time you have vaginal or anal sex.
Use only water-based or silicone-based lubricants. (Oil-based lubricants can make latex condoms break.)
Get tested for STIs regularly. Having an STI increases your risk of getting and passing on HIV.
Avoid sharing sex toys, and if you do, cover each one with a new condom before each use. It is also important to clean your toys between vaginal and anal use.
Use a condom or dental dam every time you have oral sex.
Choose forms of sexual stimulation that pose little or no risk for HIV, like masturbation or sensual massage.
For more on sexual health and safer sex, please see:
Your sexual health from Managing Your Health, CATIE’s guide for people living with HIV.
CATIE’s Sexual health and safer sex section for much more information for you to explore.
HIV & drug use
HIV can be passed on through shared needles and other drug equipment. Sharing needles and other drug equipment is very risky. Another virus called hepatitis C can also be spread when sharing drug equipment. hepatitis C damages the liver. It is passed when the blood from someone who has hepatitis C gets into the bloodstream of another person.
Protect yourself and the people you do drugs with. If you use drugs, there are things you can do to protect yourself and use drugs in a safer way. This is called harm reduction.
To practise safer drug use…
Use a clean new needle and syringe every time you use.
Use your own drug equipment (such as pipes, bills, straws, cookers, water, alcohol swabs) every time. Never share equipment, not even with your sex partner.
Get new needles and supplies from your local harm reduction program, needle exchange or community health centre.
Get tested for HIV and hepatitis C. If you know that you have HIV or hepatitis C, you can take steps to protect yourself and others.
If you do not have access to a needle exchange…
As a last resort, your own needles can be cleaned before each time you use them, but it is still best not to share with other people. Cleaning means flushing the syringe twice with clean water, twice with bleach, and then twice with new water. Each flushing should last 30 seconds. This will kill HIV, but it will not protect you from hepatitis C.
For more on safer drug use, please see:
CATIE’s Substance use and harm reduction section for much more information to explore.