Lowering your risk for HIV

Lowering your risk for HIV

With nearly 40,000 people diagnosed annually, the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, infection remains common in the United States. However, many people living with HIV – approximately 1 in 8 – are unaware they have it, making it important to be screened if you have engaged in high-risk activities such as sex without a condom or needle sharing.

Presently, strategies to prevent HIV infection include education about safer sexual practices and avoiding needle sharing. To provide even greater protection for people at high risk, these methods can be combined with a new medication, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

PrEP (e.g. Truvada) is a prescription medicine taken daily that works to stop the virus from establishing a permanent infection. According to the CDC, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of infection in high-risk individuals by 92%. However, it is not something to take only when you plan to have sex.  The medicine must be taken consistently or else it is significantly less effective.

For high-risk individuals, PrEP may be an important part of an overall strategy to lower the risk of acquiring HIV infection. You should talk to your health care provider about all the ways to reduce HIV risk and other sexually transmitted infections.

If you think you may have HIV, ask your provider or local health department about getting screened.

For questions, please call Marshall Obstetrics & Gynecology at 304-691-1400.

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David Jude, MD

Dr. Jude is a board-certified OB/GYN and professor and chair of the department of obstetrics & gynecology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

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