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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

HIV is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, which weakens the immune system and makes it more susceptible to other potentially deadly diseases. Although treatments have improved considerably, there is no cure for AIDS.

The estimated number of diagnoses of AIDS through 2002 in the US was over 850,000 according to the CDC and they have reported that in 2003, there were an estimated 1 million persons living with HIV infection. There continue to be 35,000 to 45,000 new infections annually in the U.S. At the end of 2003, an estimated 1,039,000 to 1,185,000 persons in the United States were living with HIV/AIDS. In 2005, 37,331 cases of HIV/AIDS in adults, adolescents, and children were diagnosed in the 33 states and CDC has estimated that approximately 40,000 persons in the United States become infected with HIV each year.

The HIV virus is very fragile and will not survive very long (seconds to minutes) outside the human body. Therefore, it is of primary concern to those potentially exposed in situations where there is fresh blood or OPIM.  The risk of becoming infected with HIV from an exposure in the workplace is not very high, only about a 0.3% to 0.4% chance. (As of December 2002, a total of 57 health care personnel have been documented as developing HIV infection following an exposure incident on the job, and 26 of those have gone on to develop AIDS.) However, because of the devastating nature of the disease, all precautions need to be taken.

There is no vaccine for prevention of HIV.


Symptoms of initial infection with HIV can vary but often appear as flu-like symptoms, including fever, weakness, sore throat, nausea, headache and diarrhea. Eventually the individual may develop swollen lymph glands and a weakened immune system and become susceptible to opportunistic infections. The diagnosis is made by the use of specific blood tests. Confidential HIV testing for students is available at the JMU University Health Center for a small fee, call 540-568-6178 for an appointment.


STD testing is available at the University Health Center to insure that infections are detected and treated early to help reduce the risk of STD and HIV transmission. Condoms are also available to students at no cost at the Health Center and the Student Wellness and Outreach office in Warren Hall. Abstinence and using Universal Precautions in emergency situations are the number one way to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

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