World Aids Day is a day for people around the globe to unite and raise their voices together in the fight against HIV. This day of solidarity is an opportunity to remember those we have lost, share our experiences, and show support for the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS.
According to the CDC, over a million people in the U.S. have HIV, including an estimated 158,000 people who don’t know they have the virus. A large percentage of new HIV infections are transmitted by individuals who are unaware of their HIV status. For those with undiagnosed HIV, getting tested is the first step in preventing HIV transmission and maintaining a healthy life.
HIV Testing and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as a part of routine preventive health care. And that people with certain risk factors should get tested more often.
For those who test HIV positive…
People who test positive for HIV can receive treatments called antiretroviral therapy, or ART, and remain healthy for many years. As with any health treatment, the sooner you begin HIV treatment the better.
Taken as prescribed, HIV ART treatments reduce your viral load to a significantly low level which keeps your immune system operating and preventing illness.
In addition to leading healthier lives, people who know their HIV status can take steps to remain undetectable and prevent the spread of HIV to their sex partners. Antiretroviral therapy decreases the amount of HIV in the blood (also known as viral load), reduces HIV-related illness, and prevents HIV transmission.
Treatment as Prevention – Getting to Undetectable
Not only can these treatments improve your health, but they can also help prevent the spread of HIV. Ask your healthcare provider about HIV treatments, the benefits of medications, and which treatment is right for you. Also, talk with your doctor about how frequently you should get your viral load tested to make sure you reach and maintain an undetectable viral load.
People who take their HIV medication as directed and get to and keep their viral load at an undetectable level will not transmit HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex.
For those who test HIV negative…
People who test negative for HIV can use the information to make decisions about the various prevention methods that can be utilized to reduce their risk of contracting or transmitting HIV.
PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is a prescription medication taken to prevent HIV infection. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective. According to studies PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by about 99% and reduces the risk of contracting HIV from drug use involving injection equipment by 74%.
PrEP only protects against HIV; condom use is still recommended for the protection against other sexually transmitted infections. Using condoms is also important to help prevent HIV in case PrEP is not taken as prescribed. Post-exposure prophylaxis PEP is also available if you think they may have had a possible exposure to HIV.
Talk to your family doctor to see if PrEP is right for you.
World Aids Day is an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS by showing support to those living with HIV, learning more about preventing the spread of HIV, and getting tested.
If you’re interested in speaking to one of our open and caring physicians about HIV, testing, treatment, or prevention, contact River Bend Medical Associates for an appointment today. At River Bend Medical Associates our progressive, sensitive, and culturally diverse team is committed to delivering compassionate health care and promoting the well-being of our patients, employees, and the communities we serve. When providing services to members of our local community, our goal is for our patients to feel secure in discussing any issue of medical concern with their River Bend practitioner. As part of your medical team, we are here to provide you with the best care in all aspects of your healthcare needs. For more information on our medical practice, or to make an appointment contact River Bend Medical Associates, or call 916-392-4000.