Among the Homeless and the Poor

Lack of Awareness and Resources

Many of the poor and homeless don't know what they should about HIV (how it's spread or how to protect themselves from it, etc.). Some don't even know what it is. Others, however, just do not have the resources available to protect themselves if they are aware of HIV--be that medical care, a testing center, condoms, or enough money.

How is it spread?

HIV can be tramsmitted via blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluid, rectal mucous, and breast milk. Use of a needle that hasn't been cleaned (most commonly through shared needles during injection drug use), unprotected sex (of any kind), and breastfeeding can all spread the virus.

What does it do to the body?

When HIV enters a person's body, it attacks and takes control of T cells, which are part of the immune sustem and help fight off infections. Then, the HIV cells uses the T cell it took over to replicate, creating more HIV cells which will, in turn, attack more T cells and replicate again.

Because of this, the immune system cannot fight off the HIV, and the person runs a higher risk of getting sick with opportunistic infections. When your CD4 (T cell) count drops below 200 per cubic millimeter, you no longer have HIV; it is then considered AIDS.