Living with HIV can be challenging enough without having to visit multiple doctors to get the treatment you need. Our providers are dedicated to providing HIV care to patients of all backgrounds. Though HIV can affect everyone, men continue to be at greater risk for HIV, representing up to 2/3 of all new cases that are diagnosed. This makes providing specialized care even more important and is central to our practice.
What Is HIV?
HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is the direct cause of AIDS. AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is most commonly transmitted through the exchange of blood, while breastfeeding, or during childbirth. If untreated cases, patients with HIV will inevitably develop into AIDS within 8 to 10 years, ultimately resulting in death as the immune system collapses. While there is HIV/AIDS remains incurable, modern treatments are able to prevent the transition from HIV to AIDS indefinitely.
How Is HIV/AIDS Diagnosed?
HIV is diagnosed through testing the saliva or blood for the presence of antigens, antibodies, or the virus itself. Which test is used is determined by how long it has been since the patient believes they were exposed to HIV and other factors to be determined by a physician. The three most common tests include:
- Antigen/Antibody Tests – These tests typically involve a blood draw and are looking for substances found on the outer shell of HIV known as antigens. This test checks for these antigens in your bloodstream.
- Antibody – Your immune system produces antibodies when it comes in contact with HIV, and the test is usually effective between two to six weeks following exposure. These tests typically become effective within 3 to 12 weeks following exposure.
- Nucleic Acid Tests (NATs) – These tests are specifically looking for the presence of the virus within the bloodstream. Like the above tests, they typically involve drawing blood and are sensitive enough to detect the virus within a few weeks of being exposed.
It’s important to know that these tests typically require follow-up tests to be considered conclusive, especially in cases where the first test shows up negative.
HIV Is A Complex Condition
Public knowledge about HIV is primarily focused on the impact that it has on the immune system when it develops into AIDS. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the concerns of those living with HIV before AIDS develops. The overall impact of the virus is complex and varied; having the ability to lower testosterone levels and increase a patient’s risk of heart disease. The treatments also have the possibility of causing weight gain and loss of healthy bone.
How We Treat HIV/AIDS
While HIV Remains incurable, our office is committed to providing the latest treatments and staying abreast of new research information as it becomes available. The methods we use to treat the condition today have been shown to effectively suppress the development of AIDS in those who presently have HIV. ART, also known as Antiretroviral Therapy, begins immediately upon the patient receiving a positive diagnosis and will continue throughout the patient’s lifetime. Treatment typically involves the administration of three different drugs from two out of five classes of drugs, with two coming from one class, and one from another.
This treatment process helps to maintain the strength of your immune system, helps protect you against other infections, protect s against treatment-resistant HIV, and even lowers the likelihood you’ll transmit HIV to other people. Some patients find it difficult to remain on this treatment program due to the potential side-effects, expense, or existing substance abuse programs. Potential Side-Effects Include:
- Heart Disease
- Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea
- Weakened Bones
- High Blood Sugar
- Abnormal Cholesterol Levels
- Trouble Sleeping
- Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea
Compassionate HIV Care
Battling HIV can be a scary and emotional experience, impacting your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. We offer a safe space where you can receive compassionate treatment without stigma or shame. We want every member of our community to be empowered to live their life as their best self, irrespective of their health concerns.
If you’re battling HIV/AIDS or are concerned that you may have been exposed, it’s time to contact a physician today. Our helpful and friendly staff can help schedule an appointment for testing or to begin treatment for your case.