What is HIV?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system.
It affects roughly 1.2 million people in the US and if not treated it can lead to AIDS. Roughly 14% of people do not know they have HIV and need testing.
Once people get HIV, they have it for life. However, although there is no cure, with effective treatments HIV can be controlled.
How is HIV Transmitted?
You can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV. These fluids include blood, semen, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, or breast milk.
Vaginal or anal sex with a person who has HIV are two of the most common mechanisms of HIV transmission. Sharing injection drug equipment, for example needles, with someone who has HIV is another common mechanism of transmission.
The disease can be transmitted in other ways, but it is far less common in the United States. These less common mechanisms of transmission include:
- Oral Sex
- Receiving blood transfusions or a transplant that is contaminated
- Being bitten by somebody with HIV
- Broken skin, wounds, or mucous membranes coming in contact with HIV-infected blood
HIV is not spread through air or water.
What Is Usually the First Sign of HIV?
The first signs of HIV typically appear within a couple weeks.
Fever is the most common sign of HIV infection as well as other flu like symptoms. For example, headache, fatigue, muscle joint pain, sore throat, swollen lymph glands, etc.
However, not everyone will have these symptoms.
That is why if you think you may have been exposed to HIV, it is important to get tested as quickly as possible.
How to Prevent HIV?
There are many ways to reduce your risk and prevent HIV.
First, practice safe sex practices such as wearing a condom. Condoms are highly effective at preventing HIV if you use them the right way every time you have sex. Additionally, limiting the number of sexual partners you have will lower your chance of having a partner who could transmit HIV.
Second, limit risky behaviors. For example, do not inject drugs. If you decide to inject drugs use only sterile drug injection equipment and never share your equipment with others.
Finally, talk to your doctor about HIV PrEP (pre exposure prophylaxis), which will reduce your chances of getting HIV if you think you might be at risk.
What is HIV PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis)?
HIV PrEP (pre exposure prophylaxis) is a way for people to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill everyday.
It is for individuals who do not have HIV but who are at risk for HIV to prevent potentially contracting the disease. Gilead Sciences is the manufacturer of the only two FDA approved PrEP pills – Truvada and Descovy.
These medicines are highly effective at preventing HIV when taken properly as directed.
Why is PrEP Important?
HIV PrEP medications are safe and effective in preventing you from getting infected with HIV.
As a result, these medicines are extremely important. 1 in 7 HIV positive individuals are unaware that they have the virus, which means that you or a partner may unknowingly be putting others at risk.
HIV PrEP medications help reduce this risk quite significantly.
How Effective is PrEP for Treating HIV?
According to CDC, when taken daily as directed, PrEP is extremely effective for preventing HIV.
Several studies have shown that PrEP can reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99%. Additionally, it can reduce the risk of getting HIV from drug injection by more than 74% when taken correctly.
However, adherence and consistency matter. Risk reduction dropped significantly in proportion to the level of adherence.
Furthermore, although PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV when used correctly, it does not protect against other STDs.
Condoms are still very important in reducing your risk.
Are There Any Side Effects of PrEP?
Although PrEP is safe, some people do experience side effects.
The most common side effects are diarrhea, nausea, headaches, fatigue, and stomach pain. These side effects should go away with time but if you experience severe symptoms or side effects that persist over time, talk with your health care provider.
You can learn more about the specific side effects of Descovy and Truvada on their official websites.
NowPrEP – HIV PrEP from NowRx
Starting a conversation with your doctor about HIV PrEP can be difficult for a number of reasons.
For some it is uncomfortable or others are worried that their families may find out. Whatever the reason is, there is now another option from NowRx.
NowPrEP presented by NowRx is a Telehealth service specializing in HIV prevention. It takes minutes to sign up and allows you to prep for HIV from the comfort of your own home.
Additionally, your medication and delivery to your home are completely free for 99% of patients.
You can learn more at https://nowrx.com/nowprep/ and get started in minutes to see if you qualify for free PrEP.