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Men's Health Line - AIDS

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Introduction and Causes Symptoms and Effects
Prevention Treatment and Self-help

Introduction and Causes
Symptoms and Effects
Treatment and Self-help

What is AIDS?

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is a group of illnesses which occurs as a result of a weakened immune system.

What causes it?

The virus called Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes it. HIV can be transmitted through:

  • Direct sexual contact with someone who has HIV
  • Sharing injecting equipment and personal items such as razors or toothbrushes that are contaminated with HIV infected blood
  • A mother with HIV to her baby during pregnancy or at birth

According to the Department of Health statistics, in 2019, there were 565 new cases of HIV infection and 122 new cases of AIDS. The number of new cases of HIV infection and AIDS in men was 5.6 times and 5.8 times the number in women respectively.

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What are the common symptoms?

An HIV carrier may not have any symptoms and cannot be identified by any external features. AIDS can take 10 to 15 years to develop after the infection with HIV. At the very beginning, the infected person may experience:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen glands

What are the effects?

Over a long period of time, the immune system becomes severely damaged. Eventually the immune system is unable to prevent the development of serious illnesses including rare forms of pneumonia and skin cancer. Successive opportunistic illnesses eventually lead to death.

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How can I prevent it?

Practise safer sex behaviour can reduce the risk of infection:

  • Have sex with only one partner who is not infected and who is having sex only with you.
  • Use condom properly.

Do not share injecting equipment and personal items such as razors and toothbrushes.

Use disposable or sterilized skin piercing equipments and follow standard hygiene precautions during acupuncture or tattooing.

Wear disposable gloves when in contact with blood.

How do I find out if I have HIV/AIDS?

There is a blood test which detects HIV antibodies. A positive test result means that you are infected with HIV, and that you can spread it to others. A negative test means either that a person has not been infected with HIV, or that a person has been infected with HIV but has not yet produced antibodies at the time of testing. It can take up to three months for HIV antibodies to develop after a person has been infected (i.e. the window period).


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What is the treatment?

At this moment, there is no complete cure for AIDS. However, treatment is available to reduce the level of the virus in the blood, delay the development of AIDS, and increase the duration and quality of life.

You have to return to your doctor or clinic for regular follow up to check the progress and make necessary changes in your treatment.

How can I help myself?

Receiving a positive HIV antibody test result can be a traumatic event. All people thinking of being tested for HIV are encouraged to discuss any concerns with a doctor, nurse, or counselor. There are also many agencies and support groups available for initial and ongoing support.

If you are HIV positive, there are things you can do for yourself and your partner:

  • Use condom for every vaginal, anal or oral sex.
  • Eating well, exercising and lots of rest will keep your immune system strong.
  • Do not let other people share your personal items such as razors and toothbrushes.

If you have any suspicions, you should seek medical advice.

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Health Tips

Remember to carry out suitable preventive measures against AIDS during travel.

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  Safer Sex

Department of Health (Social Hygiene Service): 2150 7370

The Virtual AIDS Office of Hong Kong

AIDS Hotline
Phone: 2780 2211

Hong Kong Family Planning Association Service Hotline
Phone : 2572 2222

Red Ribbon Centre Phone: 3143 7200
(Dr. SEX Hotline : 2337 2121)

How to Use Condom Properly