Public health agency for Snohomish County
Skip Navigation LinksHome Communicable Disease HIV/AIDS Prevention
Need Alt
A |  A |  A
HIV/AIDS Prevention
This website contains HIV prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Because HIV infection is spread primarily through sexual behaviors or by injection drug use, prevention messages and programs address these topics. If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please exit this website.
The HIV/AIDS Prevention Program is designed to provide services, harm reduction and safer sex materials, and referral information to individuals who are HIV positive and to those who are at risk of acquiring or transmitting the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Professionally trained staff combines community outreach efforts with two established clinic locations to provide services to individuals in Snohomish County. We work closely with other departments and organizations such as the Snohomish County Clean Needle Exchange to provide a well-rounded approach to individual sexual health and disease prevention. Additionally we partner with other community organizations for annual events such as National HIV Testing Day, World AIDS Day, health fairs and other educational events. If you are interested in having a staff member from the HIV Prevention Program come to your organization, please contact our office.
For people who are at risk of acquiring HIV, the program offers confidential and anonymous HIV testing, free condoms and sexual lubricants, programs to discuss lowering risk, and direct referrals to additional services.
Individuals who are HIV positive can also receive free condoms and sexual lubricants, free HIV testing for their sex and/or drug sharing partner(s), participation in workshops and individual coaching, and direct referrals to HIV/AIDS Case Management.
How HIV Is Spread
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is different from most other viruses because it attacks the immune system.
The immune system gives our bodies the ability to fight infections. HIV finds and destroys a type of white blood cell (T cells or CD4 cells) that the immune system must have to fight disease.
AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. It can take years for a person infected with HIV, even without treatment, to reach this stage. Having AIDS means that the virus has weakened the immune system to the point at which the body has a difficult time fighting infection. When someone has one or more specific infections, certain cancers, or a very low number of T cells, he or she is considered to have AIDS.
HIV transmission can occur when blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), vaginal fluid, or breast milk from an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person.
HIV can enter the body through a vein (e.g., injection drug use), the lining of the anus or rectum, the lining of the vagina and/or cervix, the opening to the penis, the mouth, other mucous membranes (e.g., eyes or inside of the nose), or cuts and sores. Intact, healthy skin is an excellent barrier against HIV and other viruses and bacteria.
These are the most common ways that HIV is transmitted from one person to another:
  • by having unprotected sex (anal, vaginal, or oral) with an HIV-infected person;
  • by sharing needles or injection equipment with an injection drug user who is infected with HIV; or
  • from HIV-infected women to their babies before or during birth, or through breast-feeding after birth.
HIV also can be transmitted through receipt of infected blood or blood clotting factors. However, since 1985, all donated blood in the United States has been tested for HIV. Therefore, the risk of infection through transfusion of blood or blood products is extremely low. The U.S. blood supply is considered to be among the safest in the world.
How HIV Is NOT Spread
HIV is a fragile virus. It cannot live for very long outside the body and it is easily killed by soap and common disinfectants like bleach.
As a result, the virus is not transmitted through day-to-day activities such as shaking hands, hugging, or a casual kiss. You cannot become infected from a toilet seat, drinking fountain, doorknob, dishes, drinking glasses, food, or pets. You also cannot get HIV from mosquitoes or from donating blood.
Risk Factors for HIV Transmission
You may be at increased risk for infection if you have
  • injected drugs or steroids, during which equipment (such as needles, syringes, cotton, water) and blood were shared with others
  • had unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex (that is, sex without using condoms) with men who have sex with men, multiple partners, or anonymous partners
  • exchanged sex for drugs or money
  • been given a diagnosis of, or been treated for, hepatitis, tuberculosis (TB), or a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as Syphilis
  • received a blood transfusion or clotting factor during 1978–1985
  • had unprotected sex with someone who has any of the risk factors listed above
Anonymous & Confidential HIV Antibody Testing
Snohomish Health District offers confidential or anonymous HIV Antibody testing through walk-in clinics, and by appointment, at both the downtown Everett and Lynnwood locations.
All of our testing services are confidential, but SHD also offers anonymous HIV testing which means a person can provide a false name when taking the test. No proof of residence or nationality is required to receive a test. For all tests an accurate date of birth and zip code are requested, however. Please call 425.339.5298 to schedule an appointment for either Everett or Lynnwood. SHD currently uses the FDA approved OraQuick Advance ® HIV-1/2 Rapid Antibody Test for the majority of people who request an HIV test. The testing is accomplished by obtaining a small blood sample from a finger tip. Test results for rapid HIV testing are available in 20 minutes.
HIV Testing Fees
The fee for standard HIV antibody testing is $84.00. This fee may be waived in some circumstances, please call 425.339.5298 for more information.
Safer Sex Materials
Male and female condoms, lubricants, and latex oral sex barriers (commonly referred to as dental dams) are available at no charge in our Everett location, 3020 Rucker, Suite 108 (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) and in Suite 208 (Tuesdays and Thursdays).

They are also available in our Lynnwood location, 6101 200th Street SW, Suite 100 (Mondays through Fridays).
Program staff can also provide printed instructions or a demonstration of the correct way to use condoms.
Male condoms
Male condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can be highly effective in reducing the risk of transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The following information regarding the effectiveness of latex condoms is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In addition, correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including discharge and genital ulcer disease…

Laboratory studies have demonstrated that latex condoms provide an essentially impermeable barrier to particles the size of STD pathogens.

Condoms can be expected to provide different levels of protection for various STDs, depending on difference in how the diseases are transmitted. Because condoms block the discharge of semen or protect the male urethra against exposure to vaginal secretions, a greater level of protection is provided for the discharge disease. A lesser degree of protection is provided for the genital ulcer disease of HPV because these infections may be transmitted by exposure to areas, e.g., infected skin or mucosal surfaces, that are not covered or protected by the condom.
Snohomish Health District also offers male, non-latex condoms for people who have latex allergies.
The female condom or Reality condom
The female condom – or Reality condom – is a reversible barrier that can be used instead of a male condom. It is worn by the receptive partner (man or woman) when engaging in penile/vaginal or penile/anal intercourse. It is a pre-lubricated pouch, made from plastic polyurethane that is thin, soft, odorless, and stronger than latex. During penile/vaginal intercourse, women place the condom inside of her vagina, and by lining the vagina, it acts as a barrier to sperm and many sexually transmitted diseases. During penile/anal intercourse, the receptive partner (or the “bottom”) would place the condom inside his/her rectum. The Reality condom has flexible rings at each end. The ring at the closed end holds the pouch in the vagina, but should be removed before anal intercourse. The ring at the open end lies outside the vagina or rectum. For more information go to How to Use a Female Condom.
Latex and non-latex oral sex barriers
Latex and non-latex oral sex barriers (dental dams) are thin sheets designed to act as a barrier while performing oral/vaginal sex (cunnilingus) or oral/anal sex (rimming). During oral sex, the dental dam lays flat covering the entire vaginal opening and clitoris, or the anus. When properly used, they may help reduce the risk of catching or spreading many STDs such as Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia infections, Genital Herpes, Hepatitis A&B, and HIV.
Water-based or silicon-based lubricants
Water-based or silicon-based lubricants can also be used to help reduce the risk of transmitting HIV. Although there are no virus killing properties in effective lubricants, using lube can reduce the chance of a person’s body ripping or tearing due to intercourse. If a rip or tear occurs in a person’s body during intercourse, it creates an opening through which an infected bodily fluid could enter the body. This increases the chance of HIV transmission.
Only water-based or silicon-based lubricants should be used with latex condoms. Oil-based lubricants such as lotions, cooking oils or massage oils can actually break down the latex material and increase the likelihood of condom breakage.
List of Services:
Services for Individuals Who Are HIV Positive
  • Free Rapid HIV Antibody testing for any sexual partner(s) of individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Positive Options: A program that supports people living with HIV/AIDS and those who wish to remain HIV negative. Tailored one-on-one sessions focus on conversations that encourage taking steps to a healthier and safer you. For more information, please contact us at 425.339.8692 or email
Services for Men Who Have Sex with Other Men (MSM)
For additional information about any of the following outreach programs, please contact us at 425.339.5298 or email
  • Free Rapid HIV Antibody testing for themselves or any sexual partner(s).
  • Bar Outreach: SHD staff work with owners of local alternative-lifestyle bar(s) to provide free condom and lubricant distribution as well as free anonymous or confidential HIV antibody testing to members of the community who qualify.
  • Internet Outreach: SHD staff regularly visit Internet chat rooms frequented by men who have sex with men. They participate in conversations about safer sex behavior, reducing HIV transmission and acquisition risk, and the free HIV antibody testing program.
  • Gay Men’s Task Force: a community based program to plan, develop and implement HIV prevention and support for gay/bisexual/trans men in Snohomish County. Meets 1st Tuesday of each month.
Services for Women
For additional information about any of the following outreach programs, please contact us at 425.339.8692.
  • Free Rapid HIV Antibody testing for them if their sexual partner(s) are men who also have sex with other men and/or if their sexual partner(s) are injection drug users.
Services for People Who Inject Drugs (PWID)
For additional information about any of the following outreach programs, please contact us at 425.339.5298 or by email at
  • Free Rapid HIV Antibody testing for themselves or any sexual/drug sharing partner(s).
  • HIV Antibody testing is also available on Thursdays from 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm at the Snohomish County Clean Needle Exchange (or PTA) located at 1114 Pacific Avenue, 2nd Floor, Everett. Or you can call 425.514.9316 or 425.514.9306.
Partner Counseling and Referral Services
For additional information about our PCRS services, please contact us at 425.339.8806.

Partner Counseling and Referral Services (PCRS) is a strictly confidential free service that is used to contact sexual and/or drug sharing partners of people who have recently been diagnosed with certain STDs including HIV. Partners should be informed for the following reasons:
  • the partner(s) may be infected and not know it - all partners are offered a free Rapid HIV Antibody test;
  • if infected, the partner(s) can get referred to case management and medical care for early treatment;
  • if uninfected, they will gain baseline knowledge of their sexual health along with their free HIV Antibody test.
The HIV Program staff can assist you and/or inform your partner(s) for you. When a staff member informs your partner(s) that they have been exposed to HIV, your name will never be mentioned.
Free Safer Sex Materials
Male and female condoms, lubricants, and latex oral barriers (commonly referred to as dental dams) are available at no charge in our Everett location, 3020 Rucker, Suite 108 (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) and in Suite 208 (Tuesdays and Thursdays).

They are also available in our Lynnwood location, 6101 200th Street SW, Suite 100 (Mondays through Fridays).

Surveillance is responsible for verifying the diagnosis and treatment of all reportable STDs from public and private care providers.
Disease Reporting & Surveillance
Snohomish Health District is responsible for verifying the diagnosis and treatment of all reportable STDs from public and private care providers.

Private and public hospitals, laboratories, physicians and other health related care providers, as required by law, report positive STDs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV to Snohomish Health District on a daily basis. See our Reporting page for more information.

Health care providers in Washington State are required to report HIV infection, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (including AIDS in persons previously reported with HIV infection), and other STDs to local health authorities within 3 working days (in accordance with WAS 246-101). If you would like a complete list of reportable infections, please go here.

List of HIV Resources:
  1. AEGiS (AIDS Education Global Information System)  web
    Largest free-access virtual AIDS library consisting of more than 1.3 million articles covering the world from 1981 to present day.
  2. AIDS Clinical Trials Unit – University of Washington  web
    UW Unit which conducts clinical research, studies the history of HIV/AIDS, helps develop treatment for HIV/AIDS, educates and provides equal access to all who wish to participate in HIV/AIDS research.
  3. American Red Cross – Snohomish County Chapter  web
    Offers 4-hour and 7-hour HIV/AIDS education classes.
  4. Bastyr Center for Natural Health  web
    Leading authority in natural medicine, based in Seattle, Washington.
  5. CDC National Center for STD, HIV and TB Prevention  web
    Portal to The National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention website for information on HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STDs and TB.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Division of HIV/AIDS  web
    Portal to the CDC website specifically dedicated to HIV/AIDS prevention and education.
  7. Citrine Health ( previously Positive Women’s Network)  web
    A nonprofit organization committed to connecting women and their families to services that improve the quality of their health, including connecting clients to health screenings and insurance, food programs and tools to help individuals achieve their highest level of wellness. Citrine also offers 4-hour and 7-hour HIV/AIDS education classes.
  8. Compass Health (Mental Health Care)  web
    Compass Health has a comprehensive range of behavioral health programs serving children, youth, adults, and older adults from a variety of income levels and ethnic cultures. They also provide consultation, training and education services to other medical providers, law enforcement and correction facilities, corporate employers and the community at large.
  9. Department of Social & Health Services  web
    State-wide agency that helps Washington residents through their Aging and Disability Services Administration, their Children’s Administration, their Economic Services Administration, their Health & Recovery Services Administration, their Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, and the Planning, Performance and Accountability services.
  10. Evergreen Wellness Associates (formerly Evergreen AIDS Foundation)  web
    EWA provides community outreach, education, prevention outreach, counseling and testing, mental health counseling, clinical support groups, emergency financial assistance, food assistance, housing assistance, peer advocacy, volunteer services and psychosocial support for persons with HIV disease and their families.
  11. Gay City Health Project  web
    Multicultural gay men's health organization and the premiere provider of HIV testing in King County which promotes gay and bisexual men's health and prevents HIV transmission by building community, fostering communication and nurturing self-esteem.
  12. GLOBE Youth Support Group  web
    Everett-based youth support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth ages 14-20. GLOBE empowers youth to make healthy decisions by enhancing their knowledge, self-esteem & pride. Topics covered include HIV/AIDS & STD education, among others.
  13.  web
    HIV/AIDS Prevention site run by Lifelong AIDS Alliance dedicated to offering health information and services specifically to men who have sex with other men.
  14. Inspire Youth Project (formerly Rise N’Shine)  web
    Seattle-based organization offering support for children and teens affected by HIV/AIDS.
  15. Lambert House  web
    A Seattle-based center for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning youth that encourages empowerment through the development of leadership, social and life skills.
  16. Lifelong AIDS Alliance  web
    Seattle-based community organization that is committed to preventing the spread of HIV and to providing practical support services and advocating for those whose lives are affected by HIV and AIDS
  17. National HIV Testing & Information Resources  web
    Website for locating HIV and STD testing sites anywhere in the United States.
  18. Nine And A Half Minutes  web
    Informational website about HIV/AIDS, encouraging people to get involved and get tested.
  19. The Body  web
    Comprehensive, educational website about HIV/AIDS Information, recent diagnosis, HIV/AIDS medications, medication side effects, etc.
  20. WA State Department of Health HIV Client Services – Early Intervention Program  web
    HIV Client Services offers services to support and assist persons living with HIV/AIDS such as the Early Intervention Program, Ryan White Care services, and the Title XIX HIV case management program.
  21. WA State HIV Prevention Counseling Workshop Series  web
    Information about HIV/AIDS training and licensure needed for individuals who work as a health care professional or in a state licensed or certified health care facility in Washington.
  22. Washington State Department of Health (DOH)  web
    Home page for DOH, state-wide government department established to promote and protect public health, monitor health care costs, maintain standards for quality health care delivery and plan activities related to the health of Washington citizens.

Last Reviewed and updated 1/5/2010