About HIV and AIDS
World AIDS Day is a time to remember the devastating losses during the early HIV epidemic, and to celebrate the successes in HIV prevention and treatment.
Advances in HIV treatment have a led to a substantial reduction in transmission, as the medication reduces the level of virus in the blood to a nearly non-transmittable state. Advances in prevention have led to greater awareness of risk, more people getting tested, and more positive persons accessing treatment.
Montana can celebrate the fact 82% of persons living with HIV in Montana have undetectable viral loads, which improves and protects their health as well as their partners.
Learn more about HIV Testing and where to test in your area
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if not treated.
You can get or transmit HIV only through specific activities. Most commonly, people get or transmit HIV through sexual behaviors and needle or syringe use.
In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by
- Having unprotected (no condom) anal or vaginal sex without a condom and with someone who has HIV and who is not virally suppressed
- Sharing needles or syringes, rinse water, or other equipment (works) used to prepare drugs for injection with someone who has HIV. HIV can live in a used needle up to 42 days depending on temperature and other factors.
A much higher proportion of gay and bisexual men are living with HIV compared to any other group in the United States. Therefore gay and bisexual men have an increased chance of having an HIV-positive partner
1 in 6 gay and bisexual men living with HIV are unaware they have it.
- Most gay and bisexual men get HIV through having anal sex without condoms. Anal sex is the riskiest type of sex for getting or transmitting HIV. Receptive anal sex is 13 times as risky for getting HIV as insertive anal sex.
- Gay and bisexual men are also at increased risk for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Condoms can protect from some STDs, including HIV.
- Homophobia, stigma, and discrimination may place gay and bisexual men at risk for multiple physical and mental health problems and affect whether they take protective actions with their partners or seek and are able to obtain high-quality health services.
- Today, there more tools than ever to prevent HIV. In addition to abstinence, limiting your number of sexual partners, never sharing needles, and using condoms the right way every time you have sex, you may be able to take advantage of newer medicines such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
If you are living with HIV, there are many actions you can take to prevent passing it to others. The most important is taking medicines to treat HIV (called antiretroviral therapy, or ART) the right way, every day. They can keep you healthy for many years and greatly reduce your chance of transmitting HIV to your partners.
HIV Frequently Asked Questions
HIV does not discriminate. It affects all ages, socio-economic groups, races, and sexual orientations. HIV is the virus that can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus (AIDS). In Montana, 488 people (one in 2000) are living with HIV or AIDS. That number includes two children and 45 people over 49 years of age.
HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual activity with an infected person, by using infected needles, or through birth or breast milk if the mother is infected. You cannot get HIV through kissing, sharing a drinking glass, eating utensils or touching a toilet seat. Yet, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation public opinion survey, nearly one-half of Americans believe one or more of these misconceptions to be true.
HIV Brochure Information
Check back for updated brochure information.
HIV Antibody Test
HIV Negative Antibody Test
HIV Positive Antibody Test
HIV Risk Assessment
Women and HIV in Montana
Of the 595 persons reported to be living with HIV in Montana as of the end of 2015, 87 or 15% were women. 24% of infected women in Montana report injection drug use as a transmission risk; the remainder report high risk heterosexual contact. At the time of new diagnosis, females of ages 25-44, like their male counterparts, were the most common age group.
Testing, Prevention and Treatment
Testing Makes Us Stronger
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Learn more about HIV Testing and where to test in your area
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended HIV testing as part of routine medical examinations for anyone age 13 – 64. Anonymous or confidential HIV testing is available throughout Montana.
There is still no cure for HIV and AIDS, but breakthrough antiretroviral medicines have greatly increased the life expectancy of people living with HIV and AIDS.
Act Against Aids HIV testing and prevention campaign
CDC Frequently Asked Questions.
For people with multiple sex partners, the best way to prevent the transmission of HIV is to use a latex condom for vaginal, anal or oral sex. For injecting drug users, never share needles or syringes for drugs, steroids or vitamins. Never share needles or inks for tattoos, ear piercing or body piercing. Don't mix sex and drugs. Alcohol and other drugs can make it difficult to avoid risky behavior. For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Treatment is Available
Ryan White HIV care programs throughout the state provide treatment and supportive services to increase access to care and treatment. Seventy-two (22%) of 2015 Ryan White enrollees were female. Women with HIV in Montana are more likely to be in care and have a lower percentage of progression from HIV to AIDS than males.
HIV Prevention Community Planning
Montana’s HIV prevention community planning process is structured for the purpose of meeting the goals for HIV Prevention Community Planning as described in the 2003-2008 HIV Prevention Community Planning Guidance.
Goal One – Community planning supports broad-based community participation in HIV prevention planning.
Goal Two - Community planning identifies priority HIV prevention needs (a set of priority target populations and interventions for each identified target population) in each jurisdiction.
Goal Three - Community planning ensures that that HIV prevention resources target priority populations and interventions set forth in the comprehensive HIV prevention plan.
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