HIV And HIV Prevention Methods
HIV is a serious condition that affects your immune system. If not properly taken care of, it can be fatal. If you have signs and symptoms of HIV, it's important to see your doctor. If you are diagnosed with it, starting HIV treatment will be very important.
What Is HIV?
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, affects your immune system's ability to fight diseases and viruses effectively. Without proper prevention or treatment, HIV can damage your immune system so much that you will have AIDS.
Signs and Symptoms of HIV
It's possible for symptoms to go unnoticed for some time. If you do start to experience any of the symptoms, call your doctor as soon as possible.
Signs and symptoms of HIV can include:
- Mouth sore
- Swollen lymph glands
- Night sweats
- Oral yeast infection
- Weight loss
How HIV Is Contracted
There are a few ways that HIV can be contracted. It cannot be contracted by everyday contact.
HIV can be contracted through:
- Sexual contact
- Infected blood transfusions
- Childbirth (mother to child)
HIV Prevention Methods
There are a few ways to prevent the contraction of HIV.
Prevention During Sex
To lower the risk of contracting HIV during sex, you can try a few methods.
- Always use condoms (latex has the best protection)
- Use water or silicone-based lubricants
- Get regular STD checkups
- Try oral sex
You could also choose to stay abstinent to prevent getting HIV, but this is not always possible for some.
The possibility of passing HIV onto the child is a big fear for those who give birth, but there are a few steps to take to be cautious during pregnancy.
- Get tested right away and regularly
- Have your partner get tested
- Take HIV prevention pills during pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Have your baby take HIV prevention pills after birth (if the person who gave birth is HIV positive)
PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is an HIV prevention medication. This can only be prescribed to you if you do not already have HIV. This medication lowers the risk of contracting HIV from needles or sex. While taking the medication, you will still need to continue to test regularly for HIV and see your doctor. Insurance does help cover the cost of this medication. If you do not have insurance, there are programs available to assist with the cost.
PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, is a medication used in an emergency if you've been exposed to HIV. PEP is an HIV prevention pill taken after exposure, but before testing positive for HIV. PEP is not a substitution for PrEP and should only be used in an emergency. Some insurances do help cover the cost of PEP. If you do not have insurance, or your insurance does not cover the cost, look into assistance programs.
For more information about HIV prevention, contact a company like CAN Community Health.