Rethink what you know about HIV

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Adam Spivak, M.D. and Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases with the Department of Medicine with the University of Utah School of Medicine joined Emily Clark on ABC4 Utah to talk about HIV and the importance of rethinking what we know.

If everybody knew their HIV status—even people who don’t think they’re at risk—we could stop the spread of HIV once and for all. So make getting tested part of your New Year’s resolution.  

“Getting to Zero” is a collaborative initiative among HIV medical providers, community-based organizations, and state and local health departments that aims to reduce new HIV infections and HIV-related stigma, with the ultimate goal of zero HIV-related deaths in Utah. Getting to Zero will focus on four key domains: Test, Treat, Prevent, and Respond. With focused goals, strategies, and actions in these areas, we can address the factors affecting communities and individuals impacted by HIV.

Ending HIV infections and deaths in Utah starts with more people getting tested and knowing their status.

  • There is one case of HIV diagnosed in Utah every three days (roughly 120 new infections diagnosed a year).
  • Ensuring people living with HIV have access to the care and medications they need will prevent new infections and reduce HIV-related deaths.
  • By increasing access to PrEP and other resources, we can prevent many new HIV infections from ever occurring happening.

PrEP is an HIV prevention strategy that can be taken every day to significantly reduce the likelihood of acquiring HIV. We can prevent new HIV clusters and outbreaks with rapid access to care and cohesive efforts to identify potential exposures, we can prevent new HIV clusters and outbreaks.

What is HIV?

HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that attacks a key part of the immune system – the T-cells or CD4 cells – which help defend the body against illness. Left untreated, HIV can destroy so many CD4 cells that the body can’t fight infections and diseases anymore. When that happens, HIV can lead to an AIDS diagnosis.

 The most common ways HIV is transmitted between partners:

  • Having anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV and is not virally suppressed without using a condom or PrEP
  • Sharing needles or syringes or other equipment used to prepare drugs for injection with someone who has HIV and is not virally suppressed

Uncommon ways HIV is transmitted:

  • From mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
  • By being stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp objects. This is a risk mainly for health care workers, is extremely rare, and can now be treated with PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).

HIV cannot be transmitted through casual contact.

You cannot get HIV from:

  • Air or water
  • Insects or pets
  • Saliva, sweat, tears, kissing, hugging, holding hands
  • Toilet seats
  • Sharing food or drinks or utensils

What resources are available for people living with HIV?

The Utah Department of Health’s programs that focus on HIV prevention, treatment, and care recently launched a new website HIVandME.com, which provides information, resources, and support for those living with HIV, those at risk for HIV, and those trying to support a friend or family member with the disease. 

For more information visit the Utah Department of Health’s website.

This article contains sponsored content.

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