HIV

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) gwinnettHuman immunodeficiency virus (commonly known as HIV) is a serious disease, and our best defense is knowledge about the virus, about how to prevent it, and about what to do if you suspect you’ve been exposed. Transmitted through bodily fluids, often during sexual activity, HIV attacks a specific type of cell in the body’s immune system, called T cells. These cells are crucial to fighting off infections and disease, and as a result, HIV patients can experience significantly worse illnesses from the same viruses or bacteria which barely affect healthy patients. In the late stages of HIV infection, known as AIDS (or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), this can be particularly dangerous.

Although HIV is a chronic condition, there are treatments available to keep it at bay and significantly lower a patient’s risk of experiencing weakened health and of transmitting the virus to others. This is why regular HIV testing is so important, especially if you have engaged in certain high-risk behaviors, like sex without a condom, intravenous drug use, or street tattooing. While HIV can become life-threatening, today it is quite manageable if diagnosed early and treated effectively.

 

HIV Treatment

While consistent HIV testing is always recommended at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett (particularly among non-monogamous people or those who use intravenous drugs), you should particularly seek testing if you think you may have been exposed to HIV. While some patients experience flu-like symptoms within the weeks after infection, others experience no symptoms at all, so you should rely on your risk factors rather than symptoms to determine whether you should be tested. Because many HIV tests can only detect antibodies to indicate your HIV status, the test may not be effective within a certain timeframe, so be sure to communicate when you think you were exposed so that we can recommend the appropriate type or timing of your test.

If you are diagnosed, we will refer you to a specialist in managing HIV, who will likely prescribe medication called antiretroviral therapy, or ART. Your T cell count will be tested as well to determine what stage you have reached in your HIV infection. There is currently no cure for HIV, but when started early and used as directly, ART allows HIV patients to have nearly the same life expectancy as those without the virus.

 

HIV FAQs

What is the difference between AIDS and HIV?
AIDS is a condition which can come about as a result of HIV. Over time, if left untreated, HIV continually decreases the number of T cells a patient has. If the T cell falls below a specific level, the patient is then said to have AIDS because they have become vulnerable to opportunistic infections. AIDS may also be diagnosed if one of these opportunistic infections occurs, regardless of what the T cell count is.

How is HIV transmitted?
It is not particularly easy to contract HIV. Only specific body fluids contain the virus, including blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. For you to contract HIV from someone, one of these fluids needs to make its way into your bloodstream through either a mucous membrane (such as the rectum, vagina, penis, or mouth), an open wound, or a direct injection (like a needle or syringe). HIV is most often transmitted through sexual activity. However, you should also avoid all contact with used needles, because the virus can live inside a used needle for as long as 42 days in some cases. HIV can also be transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.

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Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett
601 Professional Drive, Suite 330
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046   
Phone: 678.380.1980   
Fax: 678.380.7348

Our Hours

Monday 8:30AM–4:30PM
Tuesday 8:30AM–4:30PM
Wednesday 8:30AM–4:30PM
Thursday 8:30AM–4:30PM
Friday 8:30AM–12PM
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed

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