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The four areas that must be addressed in the HIV/AIDS KNOW curriculum training for non-medical employees include:

  • Etiology and Epidemiology of HIV
  • Transmission and Infection Control
  • Legal and Ethical Issues   
  • Psychosocial Issues

Etiology of HIV

Etiology-causes or origins of disease

Since HIV was discovered in 1983, researchers have worked to pinpoint the origin of the virus. In 1999, an international team of researchers reported that they discovered the origins of HIV-1, the predominant strain of HIV in the developed world. A subspecies of chimpanzees native to west equatorial Africa was identified as the original source of the virus. The researchers believe that HIV-1 was introduced into the human population when hunters became exposed to infected blood. HIV transmission is driven by changes in migration, housing, travel, sexual practices, drug use, war, and economics that affect both Africa and the entire world.


  • HIV = Human Immunodeficiency Virus
    HIV attacks the immune system, causing deficiency or damage in the immune system. HIV damages the body’s ability to fight diseases and infections. HIV infection leads to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
  • AIDS = Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
    The diagnosis of AIDS requires a positive HIV antibody test or evidence of HIV infection and the appearance of some very specific conditions/diseases. Only a licensed medical provider can make an AIDS diagnosis. HIV infection is not necessarily the same thing as AIDS. All people diagnosed with AIDS have HIV, but not all people with HIV have reached an AIDS diagnosis.


AIDS was first recognized in the United States in 1981. In Washington State, the first reported case of AIDS was in 1982. Since then, the number of AIDS cases has continued to increase both in the U.S. and other countries. In 1983, HIV was discovered to be the cause of AIDS.

The CDC estimates that there are between 1,039,000 to 1,185,000 persons infected with HIV in the United States. Additionally, it is estimated that 40,000 persons in the United States become newly infected with HIV each year.

In the U.S., there are estimated to be over 17,000 people with AIDS who are dying each year in the U.S. As therapies have improved, fewer people have died of AIDS each year. However, the treatments have not reduced the number of new infections.

The United Nations AIDS Program estimates there were 38.6 million people in the world living with HIV or AIDS in 2005. An estimated 4.1 million people worldwide became infected with HIV in 1005. Half of these new infections were in people between the ages of 15-24. There were 3 million deaths worldwide from AIDS in 2000.


HIV is transmitted through:

  • Unprotected anal, vaginal, and oral intercourse
  • Sharing needles or other injection equipment
  • A mother passing the virus to her baby either before or during birth
  • An infected woman breastfeeding her infant
  • Accidental needlestick injuries, or infected body fluid coming into contact with the broken skin or mucous membranes of another person (as with healthcare workers)
  • A Transfusion prior to 1986 of HIV-infected blood or blood products
  • In extremely rare cases, sharing razors or toothbrushes (if infected blood from one person were deposited on the toothbrush or razor, and the blood were to enter the bloodstream of another person).

Transmission and Infection Control

The transmission of HIV depends upon:

  • The availability of the infectious agent (HIV) in sufficient quantity
  • The viability of the infectious agent (how strong it is)
  • The virulence of the infectious agent (how infectious it is)
  • The ability of the infectious agent to reach the blood stream, mucous membranes or broken skin of a potential host (i.e. getting into another person's body)

Infection Control

Non-Occupational Risk Reduction Methods include sexual abstinence, monogamous relationships, limiting partners, safer sexual practices, avoidance of injecting drug use, syringe exchange, and using bleach and water to clean syringes.

Occupational Risk Reduction Methods include following the requirements of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.

Legal And Ethical Issues

  • People with AIDS and HIV are protected by federal law under the WA Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) and American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Washington State law (RCW 70.24) and rules (WAC 246-100 and 246-101) gives state and local health officers the authority and responsibility to carry out certain measures to protect the public health from the spread of sexually transmitted disease (STD), including HIV.
  • Reporting – HIV infection and AIDS are reportable conditions in WA state.

Psychological Issues

Washington State has a system to link people with HIV infection and AIDS to care and support services. Case managers in the HIV/AIDS Programs are the primary contact people for services. To find a case manager, contact the HIV/AIDS Program in your county’s health department or district.


Washington Resources

WA State DOH HIV Prevention & Education Services

National Resources

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

National AIDS Hotline (800) 342-2437

HIV/AIDS Quiz Questions

 a. True
 b. False
 a. True
 b. False

Correct Answers


Correct answers:

  1. a. True
  2. a. True