Answers to the most frequently asked questions
What are HIV and STDs?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus — the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
STDs are Sexually Transmitted Diseases, which include HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, human papillomavirus (HPV), and others.
How are HIV and other STDs passed?
The most common way for HIV and other STDs to be passed is through sexual contact (vaginal, anal, or oral sex). Infections can also be passed through sharing needles, having contact with infected blood, or from mother to baby during pregnancy or birth.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
Many people with HIV do not have symptoms for several years after becoming infected. Some people may develop mild, temporary flu-like symptoms or swollen glands shortly after becoming infected. After someone has been infected with HIV for some time, he or she may exhibit symptoms of AIDS, which are usually more serious.
The only way to know for sure if you are infected, and to protect yourself, is to get tested.
What are the symptoms of other STDs?
Many people do not have any symptoms. Those who do can have a variety of symptoms, including pain when urinating, discharge, blisters in the genital region, and more.
The only way to know for sure if you are infected is to see a medical professional.
Where can I get tested?
In Texas, most counties have testing locations. Go here to find one near you.
How much does STD testing cost?
It depends on what tests you get and where you get them. Many public health clinics in Texas offer low-cost or free STD testing on a sliding scale basis (based on what you can afford). Be sure to ask about cost when you call to make an appointment.
Don’t they test my blood for STDs and HIV when I give blood or have blood drawn for other medical tests?
No, ask for STD testing by name. You can’t assume you’re being tested for STDs just because you have blood drawn, give a urine sample, or have a Pap smear.
How do people talk about such personal stuff with a doctor?
Be honest with your health-care provider. You’re not going to shock him or her, and he or she is not going to judge you. If you’re uncomfortable asking your regular doctor for a test, consider getting tested at a public health clinic.
Can I talk to a live person about HIV and other STDs?
Yes. In Texas, you can call 2-1-1 to find out where to get tested for HIV and other STDs. If you have other questions about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, you can call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).
Where can I find out more information about HIV and other STDs?
In the resources section of this website, you can find fact sheets containing basic information on symptoms, transmission, and treatment for HIV and other STDs, as well as links to sites from around the country with more information about HIV and other STDs.
Can I get help finding and paying for HIV treatment?
Yes. The Texas HIV Medication Program (THMP) provides medication for the treatment of illnesses caused by HIV and other infections in HIV-infected individuals as prescribed by their doctor. Texans with HIV who meet income requirements may be eligible for the program. The THMP works with local pharmacies to provide medications to clients throughout the state. To learn more, visit the THMP website or call 1-800-255-1090 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST. If you still have questions, contact the DSHS HIV/STD Program via e-mail, or call us at (512) 533-3000.