HIV/AIDS & Prevention During COVID-19
During the COVID-19 outbreak, many hospitals and clinics need to emphasize the care of patients who are severely ill with COVID-19 or other conditions. We ask providers of sexual health care to take steps to prevent COVID-19 transmission while maintaining key HIV and STI services:
Minimize clinical encounters and provide services by telephone or video conference when possible. For New York State Medicaid, services covered under a comprehensive insurance policy or contract must be covered when delivered via telemedicine.
Submit prescriptions electronically and encourage the use of mail-order pharmacies or pharmacies that offer home delivery, and discourage patients from stockpiling drugs to avoid exacerbating shortages. New York State has approved 90-day prescriptions for patients in Medicaid, Medicare, and the Uninsured Care Programs/ADAP.
Share guidance with patients on enjoying safer sex during the outbreak. People should avoid close contact – including sex – with anyone outside their household or anyone who feels unwell.
We know sometimes it’s hard to ask questions about HIV / AIDS
and often the search for answers is very long and
the answers are complicated, but we here to help
so you have the information you need.
What Is HIV?
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects cells of the immune system and destroys or disrupts their function. This leads to progressive deterioration of the system and ends up producing an immune deficiency. There is talk of immunodeficiency when the immune system can no longer fulfill its role of fighting off infections and other diseases. Infections that accompany severe immunodeficiency are called “opportunistic” because the pathogens causing it exploit the weakness of the immune system.
What is AIDS?
AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) defines the most advanced stages of HIV infection. It is defined by the appearance of one of more than twenty opportunistic infections or HIV-associated cancers.
How is HIV Transmitted?
HIV can be transmitted through sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal or oral) without protection with an infected person; by transfusion of contaminated blood; and by sharing needles, syringes or other sharp objects. A person giving birth can transmit the infection to their child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
How many people are infected with HIV?
According to UNAIDS In 2018, there were 37.9 million [32.7 million–44.0 million] people living with HIV. 36.2 million [31.3 million–42.0 million] adults. 1.7 million [1.3 million–2.2 million] children (<15 years). 79% [67–92%] of all people living with HIV knew their HIV status. About 8.1 million people did not know that they were living with HIV.
How soon does AIDS appear once someone is infected with HIV?
This period can vary greatly from one person to another. If not treated, most HIV-positive people show signs of disease after 5-10 years, although the period can be shorter. The time between infection with HIV and AIDS diagnosis can vary between 10 and 15 years, sometimes more. ARV therapy can slow evolution because it prevents the virus from multiplying and therefore decreases the amount of infected cells present in the individual (called “viral load”) virus.
Can I reduce my risk of infection in my sex life?
- Every time you have sex, use protective barriers. For example: male or female condoms, dental dams, and latex gloves.
- Refrain from unprotected sexual intercourse. Know your STI/STD status if you are active.
- People with multiple sexual partners may be at higher risk. It is helpful and important to be aware of the status of all partners, and/or use barriers, as well as limiting other risk behaviors.
What about condoms? Do condoms prevent HIV?
If used correctly in each act of intercourse, the condom is a method proven to prevent HIV infection across all genders. However, apart from abstinence, no protective method is totally 100% effective.
HIV and STI Testing
Why should I get tested?
Knowing your status with regard to HIV can have two important effects:
- If you find out that you are infected by the virus, you can take steps before symptoms appear for treatment, care and support, which can prolong life and prevent medical complications for many years.
- If it turns out that you are infected, you can take precautions to prevent transmission of HIV to others.
When should I get tested for HIV antibodies?
It is recommended in the following situations:
- If you are sexually active, the CDC recommends HIV testing every 3 to 6 months.
- If you have engaged in higher risk behavior. The test should be done once past the window period (from 6-8 weeks after high risk practice).
- When a new relationship starts (since it can pose a risk factor).
- If you want to have a child or are pregnant, to put in the appropriate means to prevent vertical transmission.
It is mandatory for donating blood, organs, semen, tissue or eggs.
Where can I get tested?
Translatinx Network offers free, confidential HIV and STI testing at our Chelsea office. For more information, call (646) 882-2000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org