Health Information HIV
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus and is the virus that can lead to AIDS. HIV weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. When left untreated, HIV destroys so many of these helper cells that the body is unable to fight off other infections. 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. When the medication is taken as prescribed the amount of the virus in the body can become undetectable. If the virus stays undetectable, HIV positive individuals can live long, healthy lives and effectively have no risk of transmitting the virus to others. Someone who is diagnosed with HIV today will live nearly as long as someone who does not have HIV.
Some groups of people in the United States are more likely to contract HIV than others. Many factors can increase a person's risk of contracting HIV. HIV is only transmitted through five body fluids: blood, semen, breast milk, vaginal lubrication and anal mucous. In the United States, HIV is spread predominantly through vaginal or anal sex and sharing needles/syringes or any other equipment used to prepare drugs for injection. HIV dies very quickly once outside of the body, however, it may live in a used syringe for up to 42 days.
The only way to know for sure if you have been infected with HIV is to take an HIV test. HIV tests today can provide results in as little as one minute.
Health Information HEP-C
Hepatitis C (HCV) is a blood-borne virus that causes a liver infection. It is six to ten times more infectious than the HIV virus. Sharing needles or any other equipment used to inject drugs is the leading cause of acute Hepatitis C infection today. Some people who are exposed to Hepatitis C are able to clear the virus on their own in a short amount of time. However, the majority of exposures, roughly 70%-85%, develop into a long-term, chronic infection. It can take many years or even decades to develop symptoms associated with HCV infection so many people are not aware of their status. Chronic Hepatitis C is a serious disease that can result in long-term health problems, liver cancer and even death. Currently, there are no vaccines for the virus, but treatments have become more effective and a functional cure has been developed. The best way to prevent hepatitis C infection is to use a new, sterile syringe each and every time. Many syringe exchange programs are popping up in communities around the state to help battle the transmission of Hepatitis C and other blood-borne pathogens.