What is HIV / AIDS?
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which is the virus that causes HIV infection. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infections. HIV destroys the infection-fighting immune system and makes it difficult for the body to fight infections and certain cancers.
How is HIV spread?
HIV is spread through contact with certain body fluids from a person infected with HIV. These body fluids include:
- Pre-seminal fluid
- Vaginal fluids
- Rectal fluids
- Breast milk
The spread of HIV from person to person is called HIV transmission. In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by having sex with or sharing drug injection equipment with someone who is infected with HIV. Mother-to-child is the most common way that children become infected with HIV. HIV medicines given to women during pregnancy and childbirth, and to their babies after birth reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission. To reduce your risk of infection, use condoms correctly and consistently during sex, limit your number of sexual partners, and never share drug injection equipment.
HIV Prevention - Post-Exposure Prohylaxis (PEP) and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
PEP stands for “post-exposure prophylaxis.” The word “prophylaxis” means to prevent or protect from an infection or disease. PEP involves taking antiretroviral (ARV) medicines very soon after a possible exposure to HIV to prevent becoming infected with HIV.
PEP might be prescribed for you if you are HIV negative or don’t know your HIV status, and in the last 72 hours you:
- Think you were exposed to HIV during your work, for example from a needlestick injury
- Think you were exposed to HIV during sex
- Shared needles or drug preparation equipment (“works”)
- Were sexually assaulted
Your health care provider will help to determine whether you should receive PEP.
PrEP can help prevent HIV infection in people who don’t have HIV but who are at high risk of becoming infected with HIV. PrEP involves taking a specific HIV medicine every day. If a person is exposed to HIV, having the HIV PrEP medicine in the person’s bloodstream can help stop HIV from setting up a permanent infection in the body.
You may want to consider PrEP if you are not infected with HIV and you are in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner.
Other people who may want to consider PrEP include:
- Gay or bisexual men who are not in a monogamous relationship with a recently tested, HIV-negative partner, who have either
- 1) had anal sex without a condom in the past 6 months, or
- 2) been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the past 6 months.
- Heterosexual men or women who are not in a monogamous relationship with a recently tested, HIV-negative partner, and who do not always use condoms during sex with partners whose HIV status is unknown and who are at high risk of HIV infection (for example, people who inject drugs or have bisexual male partners).
- People who, in the last 6 months, have injected drugs and have either 1) shared needles or injection equipment, or 2) been in a drug treatment program.
The above are some examples of people who may benefit from PrEP. If you think PrEP may be right for you, talk to your health care provider. To locate a PrEP provider you can visit the website pleasePrEPme.org
AIDS Drug Assistance Program
Mendocino County offers help to eligible people with HIV/AIDS for providing funding for specific medications that are used to treat people with HIV/AIDS. For more information about this program please call (707) 472-2600.
HIV Testing Resources
For information on where to get HIV testing, here is a list of clinics, along with additional resources such as domestic violence crisis hotline, legal services and more.
Address: 1120 South Dora Street, Ukiah, CA 95482
Phone: (707) 472-2600