As noted in previous blogs, our social media platforms, and of particular note during our Podcast (The HIV Journey– released in June), “Know Your Status” is key when it comes to HIV. What does this mean? Knowing your status means knowing if you are HIV positive or not. The only way to know your HIV status is to get tested! Adults should be tested at least once in a lifetime. Testing more frequently is recommended for individuals who identify behaviors that put them at risk of acquiring HIV. Examples of such behaviors include individuals who: inject drugs, have multiple sexual partners, have sexual partners with HIV or of unknown HIV status, have a history of STDs, etc. Northwest Health Services offers free HIV testing at all of our clinic locations.
Through HIV testing, the individual will learn their HIV status. Knowledge is the key! If HIV is confirmed, the individual will be educated on the HIV treatment process. This includes linkage to a specially trained medical provider. The provider orders additional labs to determine which HIV medication (often referred to as ART or Antiretroviral Therapy) to prescribe. There are several oral options available. Most HIV patients take one pill once per day to treat HIV. Today’s ART medications are highly effective. An HIV-positive individual who takes the medication as prescribed and sees a medical provider as recommended can expect to live a long, healthy life. An injectable ART medication is now available. This is still a fairly new option. Other treatment options are on the horizon!
HIV medications (oral or injectable) are expensive. However, our HIV Prevention Specialist/Case Manager links patients to assistance programs as needed to obtain the medication at little to zero out-of-pocket expense to the patient.
If the test results are negative for HIV, the individual will be educated as to when to be tested again. More importantly, they will be educated on the benefits of PrEP. PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a medication taken to prevent the transmission of the HIV. This medication is also highly effective and recommended for HIV-negative individuals who are at risk of acquiring HIV.
So, please “Know Your Status” by getting tested for HIV. To schedule a free HIV test or to get additional information about risks, etc. Please contact Janet Miller, HIV Prevention Specialist/Case Manager at 816-901-1034. Thank you for reading this blog!