Don't Go By Appearances
You can't tell if someone has HIV or Aids just by looking at them.
Can you tell if someone is diabetic, has cancer or even a headache merely by looking at them? Unless you are a qualified doctor the answer is almost certainly no, and really a doctor probably can't tell either.
So how can you know if someone could infect you with HIV/Aids? Just because they are good looking, look healthy, treat you well, and are "a nice person" doesn't mean they don't have the disease.
Over 20% of people infected with HIV worldwide have no idea they have the virus.
They may feel and look perfectly healthy - so how can you know when they don't even know themselves.
The only way to know for sure whether you or a potential partner has the virus is to get tested.
Where You Live
Even though you can't tell if someone has the virus by how they look, you can tell if someone is more likely to have the virus by where they live. For example in the United States, Washington D.C. has 10 times the American national average rate of infection with approximately 1 in 20 adults having the virus.
People who live in sub-Saharan countries are also more likely to have the disease. 67% of the world's cases of HIV/Aids (over 24.5 million people) come from this region alone! South Africa alone has almost 6 million known cases, about 18% of the population. Nigeria has over 2 1/2 million cases (just 3% of the population) whereas Swaziland with only 190,000 cases has over 26% of its population with the virus.
India has almost 2 1/2 million HIV cases, putting them third in the world for infected countries, but this is just 0.30% of the population. This is half the % of sufferers of the United States where 0.60% of the population has the virus.
Race or ethnicity can also be an indicator of the likelihood of someone having the virus. African-Americans and Latinos are disproportionally more likely to have the virus than other ethnicities in the United States. Almost half of all people with HIV in the United States are African-Americans even though they are only 12% of the American population. And Latinos in New York State comprise 16% of the population but have about 30% of HIV cases in the New York area. This is why New York State health department nominated July 2010 as Latino HIV Testing Month as a way to encourage Latinos to get tested.
Despite HIV still being falsely seen in the west as a disease that primarily affects gays and drug addicts, world-wide women and girls are more likely to be infected. In the United States alone one in four people living with HIV/Aids are women. And according to government statistics it is the leading cause of death for young African-American women aged between the ages of 25 and 34.
How To Be Sure
Even if you are a young woman who lives in Washington D.C. it doesn't mean you have the virus. It just means that statistically speaking you are more likely to be in contact with someone who has contracted the disease.
There is only one way to know for sure - get tested for HIV.
Make sure you and your partner get tested before having sex for the first time. Be safe - always use a condom!
Remember don't go by appearances - have a test!
Check out the rest of this section for more advice on HIV/Aids.
Our website has lots of other interesting health information so why not have a look around.