Understanding How to Prevent HIV

HIV is far more widespread than people may realize. Nearly 14% of those infected are unaware they even have this virus that attacks the immune system. The only sure way to see if you have HIV is through testing. Dr. Mark Tanner and our compassionate staff at Family Healthcare of Atlanta PC determine whether or not you’re infected. We also treat patients with HIV and provide helpful information to stop its spread.

Signs of HIV

During the earliest stages of HIV, you may experience issues, such as:

Unfortunately, these symptoms are also common to many other diseases. It may take a decade or more to show any outward signs of HIV. That’s why it’s crucial for high-risk individuals to get regular check-ups and accurate testing. Dr. Tanner and our team perform a blood test or swab inside your cheek to detect the presence of antibodies that indicate HIV. Since it may take up to three months for your body to produce these antibodies, it’s important to use condoms or practice other methods to avoid potentially spreading the virus.

HIV and other opportunistic infections

Once you acquire HIV, it remains in your system for the rest of your life. Left untreated, it can also lead to AIDS and other opportunistic infections, such as Kaposi’s sarcoma, pneumonia, and lymphoma. Although there is currently no cure for HIV, there are ways to stop its spread.

Dr. Tanner offers medication to keep HIV in check, lessening the chances of acquiring additional infections. To reduce your exposure to certain opportunistic infections, we recommend not sharing needles and other drug-related paraphernalia. Avoid consuming foods, such as undercooked eggs, raw cheese and milk, unpasteurized juices, raw sprouts, and unfiltered water, which increases your exposure to unhealthy germs that may cause infections.

PrEP to prevent HIV

Dr. Tanner prescribes pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill that lowers one’s risk for getting HIV in the first place. This, along with regular testing, works well for those in high-risk categories. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these include:

PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by as much as 99%. Women at high risk of HIV who plan to get pregnant or breastfeed may also benefit from PrEP to avoid HIV or spreading it to their baby or partner. Dr. Tanner discusses your risks, prescribing PrEP when warranted. We also perform follow-up tests every three months to regularly monitor your health.

An ounce of prevention

HIV spreads primarily through semen, blood, breast milk, and other bodily fluids. Barriers, such as condoms, offer protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Other preventative measures include:

  1. Regular testing
  2. Vaccinations for other sexually transmitted diseases
  3. Avoid douching, which removes healthy bacteria that helps prevent infection
  4. Abstain from excessive alcohol or drug usage, which may lead to risky behaviors, such as sharing needles or unsafe sex

Even tattooing can spread HIV, so it’s crucial to avoid sharing tattoo needles or ink.

A pound of cure

If you test positive for HIV, antiretroviral therapy (ART) lowers your chances of transmitting the virus. These medications reduce the amount of HIV within your system (viral load). Dr. Tanner monitors your dosage to help you remain healthy.

Our compassionate staff at Family Healthcare of Atlanta PC helps you detect and prevent the spread of HIV. To schedule an appointment for testing or to discuss all your options, contact Dr. Tanner and our caring team at 404-355-2000 or book an appointment online at Family Healthcare of Atlanta PC in Atlanta, Georgia today.

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