- The importance of knowing your HIV/AIDS status.
With the entire world frenzied by the current COVID-19 crisis, many people don’t realize that there is another epidemic we need to take precautions against, an epidemic that has existed much longer than COVID-19, has no cure, and has a certain stigma attached to it. The HIV/AIDS epidemic affects over 30,000 people in Atlanta, Georgia, alone, and many of those who are affected by it are of African American or Latino descent and/or affiliated with the LGBTQ+ community. Though HIV is not as contagious as COVID-19, it can be life-threatening, and without early detection, it can transition into a weakened immune system, a major indicator of AIDS. “. Today, over 1 million people in the US are living with HIV; 1 in 7 people who have HIV don’t know it. We want to ensure all Americans know their status.
How important is knowing your STATUS?
- “Knowing your status means you are taking control of your health, getting tested is part of that control. Make December your being aware of my status Month by getting educated, getting tested, and encouraging others to get tested. Eleanor Hillman, Outreach Specialist #GETTESTED
“My goal and passion as a nurse are to normalize routine STI and HIV screening. We have to dispel the stigma attached to going to get tested, let alone being diagnosed with an STI, and educate our patients about their sexual health. HIV is preventable and NOT a death sentence so education, prevention, testing, and early detection is key.” Season Barnette, RN
Did you know there’s a pill to help prevent HIV?
- If you are sheltering in place together, it is a great time to talk about HIV prevention. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is a medication taken by people who are at a high risk of getting HIV either through sex or IV drug use. When taken daily, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99%.
- Whether you choose condoms, PrEP, or another HIV prevention option. It’s important to stay safe all around. #GETPREPD
As a nurse practitioner at a community-based clinic where we provide PrEP, PEP, and HIV testing, I have witnessed the profound impact HIV education and screening can have on our patients with regard to early detection, treatment, and counseling. The use of PrEP and PEP medication has revolutionized HIV management and is available to everyone that needs it, regardless of income.
- Please don’t be afraid to reach out to Empowerment Resource Center or your local health department if you want to talk about HIV. You are not alone in the fight against this virus. – Lauren Allain, APRN
Empowerment Resource Center offers free HIV Testing through our community outreach efforts and access to PrEP at no cost through our Comprehensive Intervention Clinic, where we specialize in providing comprehensive HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) prevention education, risk reduction counseling, testing, and treatment services. ERC also provides family planning, abuse treatment, and mental health services. Learn more visit erc-inc.org or call 404-526-1148.
Author: Karla S. Porch, BA
Director of Business Development, Empowerment Resource Center, Inc.