Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the immune system, the body's natural defense system. Without a strong immune system, the body has trouble fighting off disease. This results in a chronic illness that gets worse over time. When the body can no longer fight the infection, it becomes a disease known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Around 25% of people with HIV infection are unaware of their condition. They continue to spread the infection without knowing it and represent a "hidden epidemic".

Image Content Provider: CDC

Symptoms

Within a few weeks, many people may have fever, rash, joint or muscle pains, enlarged lymph nodes, sore throat, fatigue, headache, oral and/or genital ulcers, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms last for a week or two.

Other people have no symptoms at all. They may appear and feel healthy for several years. But even if they feel healthy, HIV is still affecting their bodies. Without treatment, HIV progresses to AIDS, which results from severe damage to the immune system. AIDS often begins as weight loss, chronic diarrhea, fever and fatigue. The symptoms then progress to those of severe infections or cancers and eventually death.

Causes

HIV can be transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluid or breast milk. It can be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth or while breast feeding. People who are sexually active can be infected. You can get HIV by having unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral). The risk of infection increases with the number of sexual partners. In Manitoba, most cases of HIV are spread through heterosexual sex. HIV can also be acquired through sharing needles for injection drug use, tattooing and body piercing and by using razors or toothbrushes that have blood on them.

The highest risk for transmission is during the first few months after infection, when people likely don’t yet know they are infected.

Treatment

There is currently no cure for HIV. However, the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has largely helped in the big decrease in the number of infected individuals developing AIDS in Canada. Due to these medications, HIV is no longer a death sentence. Many people will still live long and fairly healthy lives after becoming infected with HIV.

Prevention

HIV can be prevented by always avoiding risky behaviours. Thus, avoid having multiple sexual partners, having unprotected sex and sharing needles. The presence of other STIs increases the risk of HIV, so get treatment for any STI promptly.

If you are using needles and other drug injection equipment, make sure they are sterilized or brand new. Do not share razors and toothbrushes.


Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living Resources

For the Public

Information on testing

If you have been in contact with blood or other body fluids that you suspect might be infected with HIV, it is critical that you consult a health care provider immediately. Your health care provider may request HIV testing for you.

For Health Care Providers

Forms

  • HIV/AIDS Case Report
    Federal form completed by health care providers and sent to local Medical Officers of Health for the Canadian AIDS Case Reporting Surveillance System.
  • HIV Case Investigation Form for Nominal & Non-Nominal Positive Cases
    (January 2008)
    Completed and sent to Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living for surveillance purposes. Nominal testing is ordered using the name of the person being tested, whereas non-nominal testing is ordered using an alpha-numerical code for the person being tested. In the latter, only the person ordering the test knows the identity of the person being tested and is able to link the results to that person’s health care record.
  • HIV Case Report Form for Anonymous Testing
    (April 2008)
    Completed when the person(s) ordering the test and providing the result do not know the identity of the person being tested. Anonymous testing is ordered using a unique non-identifying code, and only the person being tested knows the code, so the test result is not linked to that person’s health care record. It is not an option for HIV testing in blood/body fluid exposure situations when provision of PEP is being considered.
  • HIV Case Report Form for Rapid HIV Testing
    (April 2008)
    Completed for all patients who have refused to have confirmatory standard HIV test following a reactive point of care rapid HIV test result.
  • HIV Contact Notification Form
    (December 2006)
    Completed for reporting of all contacts to Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living.
  • HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis Drug Order Form
    (August 2016)
    Completed by distribution depots for ordering of PEP starter kits from Tache Pharmacy. A listing of HIV PEP kit depots and their contact information is available here.
  • Information Record: HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
    (March 2009) 
    Completed for all exposure situations where HIV prophylaxis (i.e., starter kit) is used.

Other Resources

Communicable Disease Control
Active Living, Population and Public Health
Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living
4th Floor - 300 Carlton St.
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3B 3M9
CANADA
Phone: 204-788-6737
Fax: 204-948-2190

Health Links – Info Santé
204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257