Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted disease that infects the strength and function of your immune system. To prevent complications HIV can cause, it’s important that you take every precaution to prevent an infection and the transmission of HIV to others.
At Texas Infectious Disease Institute, our double board-certified infectious disease specialist Serge Lartchenko, MD, offers an HIV-prevention program that helps you reduce your risk factors for HIV. We also offer cutting-edge treatments if you have HIV, so you can live a high-quality life and keep your condition well-controlled.
HIV is an infectious virus that’s spread through sexual activity. The virus attacks and weakens your immune system. When your body can’t fight off infections and diseases effectively, you’re more susceptible to illnesses like pneumonia and tuberculosis.
If not treated properly, HIV can progress to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when your immune system has severe damage.
When you develop an HIV infection, you may experience flu-like symptoms about 2-4 weeks after the virus enters your body. These symptoms can include:
Often, these symptoms are mistaken for the flu and not properly diagnosed. HIV can continue to progress without causing additional symptoms and increase your risk for developing AIDS. Blood tests are the only way to confirm an HIV diagnosis.
To lower your risk for developing HIV and spreading the virus to others, you should take precautions.
Here are some quick tips to remember to protect yourself from an HIV infection:
Use a condom every time you have sex, especially if you have more than one sexual partner and engage in vaginal or anal sex.
You may also consider practicing abstinence from sex if you’re not sure of your potential partner’s sexual history or current medical status.
In addition to sex, HIV can be contracted and spread through infected needles. If you use injectable drugs, never share needles, syringes, or other equipment with others.
Drug and alcohol use can also increase your risk for HIV if you engage in reckless sexual behaviors when intoxicated. If sex is a possibility, be sure to have condoms with you at all times.
PrEP medications are a preventive strategy for people at high risk for HIV.
When taken as directed, the medications can lower your risk for HIV infections if you have sex with or share needles with an infected person.
PEP medications can prevent HIV infections after a potential HIV exposure.
You should only use these medications in an emergency and must take PEP medications within 72 hours of exposure through sex or sharing a contaminated needle.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’ve been exposed to HIV but have risk factors for infection, you should schedule a diagnostic screening at Texas Infectious Disease Institute.
Until you know your status, you should avoid sexual activity and other activities that can spread the HIV virus to others.
Call Texas Infectious Disease Institute in Richardson, Texas, to schedule an HIV screening and learn more about transmission prevention tips or book an appointment online today.