Do You Know Your Status?
Today is National HIV Testing Day, which was first observed on June 27, 1995. The 2018 theme is "Doing It My Way, Testing for HIV". The annual event, created to encourage everyone to get tested for HIV, began in 1995 and is organized by the National Association of People with AIDS. Over 1.2 million people over the age of 13 are currently living with an HIV/AIDS infection in U.S. with an additional 50,000 infections being added every year. People between the ages of 13 and 24 account for 25 percent of all new HIV infections and it is said that 1 in 7 of them don’t even know they’re positive. The Center for Disease Control recommends that everyone get tested for HIV at least once in their life and more often if you are sexually with partners of unknown HIV status! National HIV Testing Day is a great time to do this without a full trip to the doctor! Having any STD puts you at higher risk for contracting HIV. Getting tested for other STDs to make sure you are negative for those reduces your risk of contracting HIV! In today's episode, Joey Olsen (HIV Testing Manager at CrescentCare-New Orleans) walks us through the HIV testing process, why undetectable = untransmittable, and what questions you need to ask your healthcare provider.
Body fluids that can contain HIV include the following:
Blood (including menstrual blood)
Semen and possibly pre-seminal fluid ("pre-cum")
In order for HIV to be transmitted:
HIV must be present.
HIV must get inside the body.
Sexual behaviors that can transmit HIV:
Vaginal sex (penis in the vagina)
Anal sex (penis in the anus) involving either men or women
Oral sex (mouth on the penis or vagina)
The risk of transmitting HIV is greatly reduced by using a condom.
Other ways that HIV can be transmitted:
Sharing needles when shooting drugs
Home tattooing and body piercing
Accidental needle sticks
Organ transplantation (if the donor organ is HIV infected)
It is important to know
Most people with HIV infection do not look sick.
Many people with HIV infection have not been tested and don't know they are infected.
It is important to remember that HIV is NOT transmitted through:
Saliva, tears, sweat, feces, or urine
Living in the same house with someone who has HIV
Sharing showers or toilets with someone with HIV
To avoid getting HIV:
HIV is a virus that infects people by getting inside their blood cells. To avoid getting HIV, you must prevent the blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk of someone who is infected from entering your body through your mouth, vagina, anus, tip of your penis, or breaks in your skin.
Show Notes & Resources
Partner services: This is the website for the Partners Services program that Joseph mentioned was at OPH: http://ldh.la.gov/index.cfm/page/1104
Partner Services attempts to inform people of their potential exposure to STDs/HIV, and to refer them into care when necessary.
Undetectable=Untransmittable: If you are HIV-positive but have an undetectable status (which you achieve by taking your medicine consistently) you can’t transmit the virus to your partner(s).
Check out the “Partner Study” on this subject! http://i-base.info/htb/30108
Over the course of 4 years 1166 couples of mixed status (one positive and one negative) were followed. The only method of HIV prevention was that the positive partner was undetectable. 58,000 sexual encounters between these couples was logged with ZERO transmissions of HIV.
Guidelines for PrEP:
All Primary Care Physicians can prescribe PrEP. Great candidates for PrEP include:
- Gay or bisexual men who have had anal sex without a condom OR been diagnosed with an STD in the last 6 months.
- Heterosexual men and women who do not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status.
- Persons who inject drugs and shares equipment.
- Sero-discordant couples (both heterosexual and homosexual) where one partner is HIV-positive and the other in HIV-negative.
If someone wants more info/help accessing PrEP Crescent Care can help! crescentcarehealth.org/service/prep-services/
PrEP comes in the form of a pill called Truvada. Truvada has been around since 2004 and was used to treat people living with HIV to help them attain viral suppression. It was then discovered that Truvada could prevent HIV too!
It is a well-known drug and proven to be effective for going on 2 decades!
Crescent Care offers free HIV testing at their 2601 Tulane Ave. location in New Orleans, LA. They offer FREE HIV testing on Wednesdays between 5p-7p and Friday from 1p-3p.
Other New Orleans sites that offer free testing are:
The Can Office 507 Frenchman Street Saturdays 1p-3p, Tues/Thurs 4:30p-7:30p
The Movement 2610 Esplanade Ave Mondays 12p-8p / Thurs & Fri 12p-5p
Find free and confidential testing year round near you by clicking HERE.