With Proper Treatment Hiv Doesnt Have To Progress To Aids
In most cases, if you take ART, HIV does not progress to AIDS. HIV attacks the immune systems CD4 cells. Over time, if these cells are destroyed, the immune system can no longer fight off infection. AIDS is diagnosed when a person gets certain infections or cancers, or their CD4 count is fewer than 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. Before ART medications were introduced, in the mid-1990s, people with HIV could develop AIDS in just a few years. But now thats changed. Today, many HIV-positive people who get started on ART quickly, before the disease is advanced, can expect to live about as long as someone without HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
But treatment is crucial. Without it, an HIV infection usually progresses to AIDS in a decade or so, although the figure varies, according to the CDC. And without treatment, AIDS typically leads to death in about three years.
It doesnt matter how long youve been HIV positive, or how healthy you are doctors recommend ART to everyone, says the CDC. In most people, ART dramatically reduces the amount of HIV in the blood and other parts of the body, lowering whats known as the viral load. Often the medicines can lower the viral load so much that HIV becomes undetectable by current technology. This is a very good thing that can help in many ways, including reducing the risk that sexual partners get infected with HIV, the CDC says.
Who Should Consider Taking Pep
If you are HIV-negative and you think you may have been recently exposed to HIV, contact your health care provider immediately or go to an emergency room right away.
You may be prescribed PEP if you are HIV negative or don’t know your HIV status, and in the last 72 hours you:
- Think you may have been exposed to HIV during sex,
- Shared needles or drug preparation equipment, OR
- Were sexually assaulted
Your health care provider or emergency room doctor will help to decide whether PEP is right for you.
PEP may also be given to a health care worker after a possible exposure to HIV at work, for example, from a needlestick injury.
Treatment For People Living With Hiv
HIV treatment helps people with HIV to stay healthy, and it also helps prevent passing HIV to others. If a person takes HIV treatment as prescribed, the amount of HIV in their blood can become so low that tests cant detect it. This is called having an undetectable viral load. When someone is on treatment and maintaining an undetectable viral load, they will not pass HIV to you through sex. Successful HIV treatment also lowers the chance of passing HIV from sharing equipment for using drugs, but we dont know exactly how much it reduces the risk.
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What Is Pep And How Does It Prevent Hiv
PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. Its a series of pills you start taking after youve been exposed to HIV that lowers your chances of getting HIV. You have to start PEP within 72 hours , after you were exposed to HIV for it to work. The sooner you start it, the better. Every hour counts, so if you think you were exposed to HIV, call your nurse or doctor or go to the emergency room right away. PEP is only for emergencies it doesnt take the place of using condoms or PrEP. Read more about PEP.
Can I Take Medicines To Prevent Hiv After Exposure
Yes. Post-exposure prophylaxis is medicine that can prevent HIV after a possible exposure if started within 3 days.
An example of a possible exposure is if you have anal or vaginal sex without a condom with someone who is HIV-positive or whose HIV status you donât know. You take PEP for 4 weeks if you may have been recently exposed to HIV and are not on PrEP. PEP keeps HIV from making copies of itself and turning into infection. To be effective, PEP must begin as soon as possible, but always within 72 hours of a possible exposure. Keep in mind that PEP should only be used in situations right after a potential exposure. PEP is not intended for long-term use. It is not a substitute for other proven HIV prevention methods, such as correct and consistent condom use.
You should continue to use condoms with sex partners while taking PEP. If you have repeated exposures to HIV, you should consider PrEP.
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What Are The Most Effective Ways To Prevent Hiv
There are many ways to prevent HIV. Some of these options help to prevent HIV during sex and some help when using drugs. Some help in both situations.
Sometimes you might rely on just one strategy, and other times you might use more than one.
Have a look through the options that are available and think about what methods might work best for you and in which situations.
|Using drugs in ways with a lower risk for HIV|
Ways Hiv Can Be Transmitted
How is HIV passed from one person to another?
Most people who get HIV get it through anal or vaginal sex, or sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment . But there are powerful tools that can help prevent HIV transmission.
Can I get HIV from anal sex?
You can get HIV if you have anal sex with someone who has HIV without using protection .
- Anal sex is the riskiest type of sex for getting or transmitting HIV.
- Being the receptive partner is riskier for getting HIV than being the insertive partner .
- The bottoms risk of getting HIV is very high because the rectums lining is thin and may allow HIV to enter the body during anal sex.
- The top is also at risk because HIV can enter the body through the opening at the tip of the penis , the foreskin if the penis isnt circumcised, or small cuts, scratches, or open sores anywhere on the penis.
Can I get HIV from vaginal sex?
You can get HIV if you have vaginal sex with someone who has HIV without using protection .
Can HIV be transmitted from a mother to her baby?
HIV can be transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. However, it is less common because of advances in HIV prevention and treatment.
Can I get HIV from sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment?
You are at high risk for getting HIV if you with someone who has HIV. Never share needles or other equipment to inject drugs, hormones, steroids, or silicone.
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When Should I Start Pep And How Long Do I Need To Take It
PEP must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV. The sooner you start it, the better every hour counts.
You need to take the PEP medicines every day for 28 days. You will have to see your health care provider at certain times during and after taking the PEP, so you can have an HIV screening test and other testing.
Can Mosquitoes Spread Hiv
Though mosquitoes transmit several diseases, HIV is not one of them.
There are a few reasons for this. While it may seem like mosquitoes have a needle-like snout, the part that looks like a needle is comprised of six mouthparts four of these are used to pierce human skin, and the other two parts are composed of two tubes. This two-tubed system is part of why mosquitoes cannot transmit HIV. One part sends saliva into the host, and the other part sends blood to the mosquito. Thus, HIV-positive blood that a mosquito may have previously ingested is never transmitted to other humans.
Another reason is that, unlike other mosquito-borne diseases, HIV is unable to replicate within the mosquitos gut. As such, the virus does not have a way of replicating or migrating to the mosquitos salivary glands. Thus, the HIV particles are destroyed during the digestion process. Finally, HIV circulates at low levels in human blood, far lower than necessary to create a new infection through a mosquito bite. If it were possible for a mosquito to transmit HIV-positive blood into a new human, it would take near 10-million mosquito bites to transmit one unit of HIV.
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How Much Risk Are You Comfortable With
Different people are comfortable with different levels of risk for HIV, STIs and other infections. You have the right to set your own boundaries for what you are comfortable with and decide what prevention method you use based on your boundaries. The people you have sex or use drugs with also have this right.
Think about your chance of getting HIV and other infections and how much risk you are comfortable with. If you are currently using a prevention strategy, think about how much it protects you against HIV and other infections. Consider whether you are comfortable with this level of protection. If you would like more protection, you might decide to make a change.
What Can I Do To Prevent Getting Stds And Hiv
The only 100% effective way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting STDs and HIV:
- Choose less risky sex activities
- Use a new condom, consistently and correctly, for every act of vaginal, anal, and oral sex throughout the entire sex act
- Reduce the number of people with whom you have sex
- Limit or eliminate drug and alcohol use before and during sex
- Have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider and ask whether you should be tested for STDs and HIV
- Talk to your healthcare provider and find out if either pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is a good option for you to prevent HIV infection.
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How Can I Help Protect My Children From Hiv
One way to help protect your children from HIV is to talk to them about HIV, AIDS, and the sexual behaviors that raise their risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections . The earlier you start talking about it, the better. By the third grade, almost all children have heard about HIV.7
According to a 2013 national survey of high school students:8
- About half of all students have had sex at least once
- One-third are sexually active
- Nearly half of the students who are sexually active did not use a condom the last time they had sex
Get tips on talking to your children about HIV in our Communication Skills Building section.
Send your teens to our Know The Facts First website for teen-friendly information on STI prevention.
When To Get Tested
It is important to get tested for HIV if you suspect you have been exposed to it or if you engage in behaviors that put you at a high chance of contracting the virus.
You can get free HIV tests if you are insured, or you can seek out a local clinic that provides free or low-cost testing to anyone uninsured.
Knowing your HIV status is important for several reasons. If your HIV test result is positive, it can be useful because you can:
- begin treatment right away
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Why Tina Smith Is Trying To Get Congress To Do More To Prevent Not Just Treat Hiv/aids
Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, who has long been an advocate for better healthcare funding in the U.S., introduced a bill in December that would give HIV doctors and activists what theyve long been asking for resources to help stop the spread of the disease.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has overtaken hospitals around the country as well as dominated the media, another decades-long epidemic has continued to exist despite access to medication that could completely eradicate it.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic, which took off in the U.S. in the early 1980s, is still very much a concern to doctors and public health officials, who say that federal funding is paramount to ending the illness.
Currently, there are federal programs that dole out money to states to help fund medication for those who already have HIV, but doctors and HIV/AIDS activists say that treating the disease after its already been contracted doesnt do enough to stop its spread. Instead, they say theres a need for federal funding for preventative medicine, which can be prohibitively expensive even for people with health insurance.
Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, who has long been an advocate for better healthcare funding in the U.S., introduced a bill in December that would give HIV doctors and activists what theyve long been asking for.
How Smiths bill would add to current HIV/AIDS legislation
The Ryan White Act expired in 2013, but funding continues through appropriations.
Can I Take Medicine To Prevent Getting Or Passing Hiv
Yes. Several medicines are available to help lower your risk of getting or passing HIV:
PrEP is an HIV prevention method for people who do not have HIV infection but who may be at high risk. PrEP is a pill you take by mouth every day.
Talk to your doctor about PrEP if:
- You are HIV-negative but your partner is HIV-positive
- You are not in a monogamous relationship and you do not always use condoms
- You inject illegal drugs or share needles
- You have a partner who is HIV-positive, and you want to get pregnant. PrEP may help protect you and your baby.
PEP is an anti-HIV medicine for people who may have been very recently exposed to HIV.5 If you think you have been exposed , or if you were sexually assaulted, talk to your doctor or nurse about taking PEP.
You must take PEP within three days of exposure to help lower your risk for HIV. You then take two to three antiretroviral medicines for 28 days to prevent the virus from copying itself and spreading through your body.
While taking PEP, you still need to take steps to prevent HIV, including using a condom with sex partners. Learn more about PEP.
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What About Oral Sex
The best way to reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV while performing oral sex is to maintain good oral hygiene. That, in addition to not flossing or brushing your teeth right before or after performing oral sex, will also reduce the risk of transmission.
Performing Oral Sex on a Woman When performing oral sex on a woman, a dental dam or common kitchen plastic wrap can be used as a barrier to protect from HIV transmission. It covers the area you are performing oral sex on . If you do not have a dental dam, you can also use a new, unused, non-lubricated or flavored condom by stretching it out and cutting it down the side, then stretching it out in the same way you would a dental dam or plastic wrap.
Performing Oral Sex on a Man In addition to good oral hygiene, proper use of a non-lubricated or flavored condom on a man can significantly decrease risk of HIV transmission. If a condom is not available or an option, not accepting semen into the mouth or spitting rather than swallowing will reduce the risk. You can also use the harmonica method by focusing on the shaft of the penis while avoiding the head.
Performing Oral Sex on the Anus For oral to anal contact, or rimming, a dental dam, plastic wrap, or a condom can be used in the same way described above under the heading Performing Oral Sex on a Woman. This can be a great barrier against not only HIV, but possible hepatitis A exposure.
How Can I Avoid Becoming Infected With Hiv
Becoming educated about HIV and understanding how it is transmitted is the first and perhaps most important way to prevent the spread of HIV. It is essential for people to make informed decisions about the level of risk they are willing to take, based on what is realistic for them.
Abstaining from sex and not sharing needles are the most effective ways for people to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections . However, abstinence is not a realistic option for everyone.
Safer SexWhen abstinence is not an option, the proper use of barrier protection, such as latex or polyurethane condom with a water based lubricant, can be the next best thing for preventing HIV transmission during vaginal or anal sex. Barrier methods can also provide protection from some other STIs. For more information on barrier methods, see the section below, How Do I Use External and Internal Condoms?
PrEP: Taking HIV Drugs to Prevent InfectionPre-exposure prophylaxisoften called PrEP for shortrefers to any form of treatment that can be taken before exposure to a disease-causing germ in order to prevent infection. For persons who want to avoid being infected with HIV, PrEP involves taking antiretroviral drugs consistently.
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Does Prep Prevent Hiv
According to the CDC, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99 percent when taken as prescribed. It doesnt get much more effective than that!
If you might get HIV from injecting drugs instead of from sex, PrEP reduces your risk of getting HIV by at least 74 percent in that case .
The key here is when taken as prescribed. Its much less effective when you dont take it daily, though itll still help somewhat.
While the CDC doesnt officially recommend it, there is evidence that a method known as on-demand PrEP where you take a few doses in just the days and hours directly before and after having sex without a condom or other barrier can be effective for some people.
It takes 1 to 3 weeks of consistent use for PrEP to reach maximum effectiveness, depending on the activity youre engaging in.