KNOW YOUR STATUS
“HIV” stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. H – This particular virus can only infect human beings. I – Immunodeficiency – HIV weakens your immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. A “deficient” immune system can’t fully protect you. V – A virus can only reproduce itself by using a cell in the body of its host
HIV is a virus spread through certain body fluids (blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk) that can destroy the body’s ability to fight off infections and disease. If not treated, HIV can lead to AIDS. No effective cure exists for HIV, but with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled.
The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy or ART and if taken correctly, every day, the medicine can dramatically prolong the lives of many people infected with HIV, keep them healthy, and greatly lower their chance of infecting others.
Durham County has the third highest rate of HIV in NC. At the end of 2014, 1598 Durham County residents were living with HIV and 66% of newly infected individuals with HIV are men who have sex with men (MSM).
However, many people are still not aware of their status or aware that they are infected. The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that everyone between the ages of 15 and 65 should be screened for HIV at least once.
Free Durham County HIV Testing Sites (insert chart)
Dr. Tamera Coyne-Beasley states, “HIV also increases your risk of getting other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Ask you heath care provider for information about STIs and to check for syphilis and hepatitis C.”
Ways to Decrease Risk of HIV
- Abstain – Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV, other STD’s, and pregnancy;
- Reduce your number of sexual partners – the more partners you have in your lifetime, the more likely you are to have a partner who is infected with HIV;
- Never share needles
- Use condoms correctly every time you have sex – condoms are highly effective in preventing the infection. To help prevent condoms from breaking or slipping during sex, use a water-based or silicone lubricant;
- PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) – specific medicine used to treat HIV that can lower your chances of getting it if you do not have HIV but are at a high risk of getting it;
- Communicate with partner – sharing your status with your partners can help you make good decisions about sex. There’s no “right way” to tell someone you have HIV.
Tips to help you tell your partner you have HIV:
|Don’t wait until the heat of the moment to start talking about HIV.|
|Talk about your status earlier in the relationship than later.|
|Don’t force it. Find the right time and place to have a conversation.|
|A conversation does not have to be face-to-face. Whether you talk, type, or text, what is important is that you start the conversation about HIV.|
In some states, you are required to tell your partner if you are HIV positive before you have sex. It is the right thing to do!
Remember the ABC’s:
A= Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV, other STD’s, and pregnancy
B= Be knowledgeable about your HIV status
C= Condom use. Use condoms correctly.
For More Information:
- Partnership for a Healthy Durham: healthydurham.org
- Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/hiv/
- Durham County Department of Public Health: www.dconc.gov
Health Tip is a message from Community Health Coalition, Inc. and is written in partnership with Central Carolina Black Nurses’ Council Inc., The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Durham and Vicinity, NC Mutual Life Insurance Company and Duke Regional Hospital.
REMEMBER Healthy People 2020: A Clear Vision to Healthy Living!