In a nutshell

  • The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the immune system.
  • The role of the immune system is to defend the organism from infections. When someone is HIV positive, his or her body then becomes more vulnerable to diseases and infections
  • HIV is mainly transmitted in 4 ways:
    • during sexual intercourse where the penis penetrates the vagina or the anus;
    • by blood when drug injection or inhalation equipment is shared;
    • by blood during tattooing or piercing using contaminated equipment;
    • from the infected mother to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
  • The virus can be contracted both by men and by women, no matter what their sexual orientation or their ethnic origin is.
  • There is no medication that provides a complete cure to HIV.

Symptoms and complications

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People infected with HIV often don’t show any symptoms.

If symptoms show up, they are as follows:

  • fever;
  • fatigue;
  • headache or sore throat;
  • muscle or joint pain
  • swollen ganglions on the neck, the arm pit or the crotch;
  • significant weight loss;
  • diarrhoea;

Possible consequences for health:

  • HIV is an infection that weakens the immune system. The infected person becomes more vulnerable to diseases that are not dangerous in general for people in good health. He or she can, for example, die of flu.
  • The infected person may suffer serious complications like pneumonia and cancer.
  • Someone living with HIV is more likely to develop certain types of cancer.
  • Being infected with HIV increases the risk of contracting another STBBI.
  • If the HIV infection is not treated, it can develop into AIDS, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Screening and treatment

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The screening test is carried out by means of a blood sample.


  • There is no treatment that can cure an HIV or AIDS infection.
  • Medications can limit the seriousness of the damage caused by HIV infection but they don’t eliminate the virus from the organism.
  • To be effective, this medication must be taken throughout one’s life.
  • Someone living with HIV must also be closely monitored by a doctor.


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  • When you have sexual intercourse, use a condom.
    • A condom must be used before any contact of the penis with the mouth, the vagina or the anus.
    • A condom must be used from start to finish of sexual intercourse.
  • To avoid blood-borne transmission, the best thing is still obviously not to inject or inhale drugs.
  • If you consume drugs by injection or inhalation, avoid reuse of equipment.
  • If you are infected with HIV, it is important to let your partners know so that they can also have screening tests done and receive treatment.

In terms of figures :

1994 the beginning of vaccination against hepatitis B in Quebec

Getting help

To get a screening test

  • Call Info-Santé 8-1-1
  • Talk it over with the nurse in your school or CLSC
  • Talk it over with your doctor


For any
other question

Consult Tel-jeunes

Tel-Jeunes Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux