HIV 101: What is HIV?
HIV enters the body through the transmission of certain bodily fluids (Blood, Semen, Rectal Fluid, Vaginal Fluid, and Breast Milk), by sharing needles, through childbirth and breastfeeding, or by a blood transfusion or needle stick.
Once the virus enters the body, it attaches to cells within our immune system. It uses those cells to replicate, continually creating copies of itself over time. Eventually, as the virus progresses through its replication process, the virus will destroy your immune cells.
When this happens, the immune system becomes really weak and can’t fight off small infections like a cold or the flu. This is called AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Without the right kind of treatment, these small (or secondary) infections can be fatal.
Testing 101: How Does It Work?
When you come to a testing appointment, we’ll talk to you a little bit about your sex life so we can make recommendations about the right kinds of tests for you and maybe even suggest some ways to keep you and your partners healthy.
Based on our conversation, we’ll offer you certain tests. Most of the tests we offer are completed very quickly. HIV can be tested with just a finger pricks worth of blood. STI’s are tested with urine collection, throat and rectal swabs. And remember, all the tests are optional. You’re in charge.
Prevention 101: How can I protect myself and others?
There are many tools in your prevention toolkit. The fun part is coming up with the tools that are right for you. We find that some of our clients’ favorite ways to stay healthy are:
- Getting tested regularly (every 3 – 6 months depending on your sex life)
- Practicing having sexual health conversations with your partner, talking to them about what is and is not ok during sex
- Using condoms and having them around in the bedroom or other places you might have sex (you can get lots of free condoms from us!)
- Taking a medicine called Truvada (or PrEP) that help prevent acquiring HIV
These are just a few of the many ways you can take care of yourself, but your Prevention Specialist and you can come up with some awesome ways to stay healthy that are perfect for you.