HIV/AIDS: How Far We’ve Come, How Far We Still Have to Go

December 04, 2019

Here’s some good news about HIV/AIDS: science has made real progress toward creating a cure and a vaccine – we don’t have these treatments yet, but scientists and doctors are very optimistic. That’s in addition to proven therapies that can reduce the risk of contracting HIV and treatment to help those with HIV or AIDS live long, healthy lives.

The bad news from the CDC is that HIV rates continue to climb among Latino men. And, specifically, even though it’s down in most categories, between 2010 - 2016, the rate of HIV diagnosis among men who have sex with other men (MSM) climbed by 21%.

Together, with African American MSM, they account for 2 out of every 3 HIV diagnoses among MSM in the United States. 

AltaMed is here to set the record straight. It doesn’t matter what your race or sexual orientation is, your best protection against HIV is knowledge! This article will cover the basics, including where you can get tested for free.

 

The Difference Between HIV and AIDS

chemical engineer testing blood

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, which is what helps us fight viruses, bacterial infections, and diseases. If HIV isn’t detected and treated, it becomes harder for the immune system to fight infections and cancers. These infections and cancers take advantage of a person’s weakened immune system, causing their illness to worsen, and often indicate that the person officially has AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).  

 

How HIV Spreads

Most people in the United States come into contact with HIV by having sex with someone with the virus. HIV can also be passed directly into the bloodstream by sharing needles or syringes with someone who has HIV. Certain body fluids, such as blood, semen, pre-ejaculation fluid, vaginal fluids, rectal/anal fluids, and breast milk, can also transmit HIV. 

HIV is not spread through casual contact like kissing, shaking hands, hugging, using a toilet, or sharing drinking glasses. Bodily fluids like saliva, sweat, and tears do not transmit HIV. 

 

The Best Ways to Protect Yourself 

wrapped condom

  • Getting tested is the only fool-proof way to determine if somebody is infected. Knowing your status gives you the best chance to treat the disease effectively, as well as keep others safe.
  • Use condoms – every time you have sex.
  • Don’t share needles or syringes.
  • PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a daily medicine that can help people remain HIV-negative. Taken as prescribed, PrEP can greatly reduce the risk of getting HIV. Even if you take PrEP daily, you should still use condoms to protect yourself from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 
  • If started within 72 hours of exposure, Post-exposure Prophylaxis, or PEP, is an emergency medicine that can stop HIV. It works best if the full 28-day course of medication is taken as prescribed. 

 

Treatment and Precautions

aids treatment pills

While there is still no cure, there are ways to control HIV and keep people healthy, safe, and active. The most common and effective treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy (ART). Taken as prescribed, ART reduces the amount of HIV in the blood to levels so small they can’t be detected, which helps people live long, healthy lives, and reduces the chance of passing the disease to others. Since the introduction of ART, people who contract HIV and begin treatment have quickly seen their life-expectancy become almost identical to someone who does not have HIV.

ART, PrEP, and/or PEP can only be prescribed by a doctor. Most insurance plans, including Medi-Cal, cover ART, PrEP, and PEP. Free or low-cost ART, PrEP, and PEP are available for those who do not have health insurance. Visit our HIV/AIDS page to learn more about the treatments and services that may be available to you.

 

What Are You Waiting For? Get Tested!

altamed's mobile testing lab

The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 gets tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. For those in what are considered “high risk” categories (e.g., MSM or intravenous drug users, those with other STIs), you should get tested at least once a year.

No matter who you are or what your status is, we want to help keep you healthy. We have convenient, free testing locations and services, as well as a high-profile mobile unit that’s out in the community, providing rapid HIV testing, condoms, and sexual health information.

AltaMed Medical Group – Commerce
5427 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90022
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday:  8:30 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday:  9:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.

AltaMed Youth & Senior Case Management
512 S. Indiana St., Los Angeles, CA 90063
Monday - Friday:  8:30 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.

AltaMed Medical Group – Santa Ana, Central 
1155 W. Central Ave., Ste. 104, Santa Ana, CA 92707
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday:  8:15 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday*:  9:15 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
*Last Tuesday of every month:  8:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

 

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An Ounce of Prevention: AIDS/HIV Awareness

November 30, 2018

Did you know that an estimated 1.1 million people living in the United States are living with HIV/AIDS? Many Americans still don’t know fully understand the disease, its challenges, and how to best keep themselves and others safe. In honor of World AIDS Day, AltaMed is here to share the facts.  


HIV vs AIDS: Understanding the Difference
smiling man

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. Our immune system is what helps protect us from viruses, bacterial infections, and diseases. If HIV isn’t detected and treated, it becomes harder for the immune system to fight infections or certain types of cancers. These infections and cancers take advantage of a person’s weakened immune system, causing their illness to worsen, and often indicate that the person officially has AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).  People with AIDS have a harder time naturally fighting other illnesses. 

Even with treatment, the immune system can never completely eliminate HIV. Once someone becomes infected, they will always be infected. 

The good news is, with proper medical care people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. If you or a loved one is living with HIV, it’s important to remember there are ways to stay healthy and protect others. 


How is HIV Spread?
blood test

Only certain body fluids – blood, semen, pre-ejaculation fluid, vaginal fluids, rectal/anal fluids, and breast milk – can transmit HIV. Most people in the United States come into contact with HIV by having sex with someone with the virus. HIV can also be passed directly into the bloodstream by sharing needles/syringe with someone living with HIV. 

HIV is not spread through casual contact like kissing, shaking hands, hugging, using a toilet, or sharing drinking glasses. Bodily fluids like saliva, sweat, and tears do not transmit HIV. 




The Best Ways to Protect Yourself


woman at doctor

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once a year. Getting tested is the only fool-proof way to determine if somebody is infected. Knowing your status provides the best chance to treat the disease effectively, as well as keep others safe.

Using condoms during sexual activity and not sharing needles/syringes will also help reduce your risk of HIV.

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a daily medicine that can help people remain HIV-negative. 
Taken as prescribed, PrEP can greatly reduce the risk of getting HIV. Even if you take PrEP daily, using condoms during sexual activity provides additional protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

Post-exposure Prophylaxis, or PEP, is an emergency medicine taken right after exposure to HIV. PEP can stop HIV if started within 72 hours of exposure. It works best if the full 28-day course of medication is taken as prescribed. 



Treatment and Precautions
man and woman looking at results

While there is still no cure, there are ways to control HIV and keep people healthy, safe, and active. The most common and effective treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy (ART). Taken as prescribed, ART reduces the amount of HIV in the blood to undetectable levels, which helps people live long, healthy lives and significantly reduces the chance of passing the disease to others. Since the development of ART, people who contract HIV and begin treatment have quickly seen their life-expectancy become almost identical to someone who does not have HIV.


ART, PrEP, and/or PEP can only be prescribed by a doctor. Most insurance plans, including Medi-Cal, cover ART, PrEP, and PEP. Free or low-cost ART, PrEP, and PEP are available for those who do not have health insurance. 
 

Get Tested for Free
altamed van

AltaMed is dedicated to providing the best care for all, with an emphasis on education, prevention, and empowerment. Our mobile HIV testing van travels throughout communities and provides free HIV testing, condoms, and information on PrEP, safer sex practices and more. 

Club Tempo


5520 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles
Free club admission with testing
Testing hours: 4:00pm – 1:00am 

  • Sunday, December 2
  • Sunday, December 9
  • Sunday, December 16


L.A. CADA 


470 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles
Testing hours: 10:00am – 7:00pm

  • Wednesday, December 19


6th/Maple


230 E. 6th Street, Los Angeles
Testing hours: 10:00am – 3:00pm 

  • Wednesday, December 5
  • Monday, December 10
  • Tuesday, December 18
  • Wednesday, December 26


5th/Broadway


215 W. 5th Street, Los Angeles

  • Friday, December 7
  • Monday, December 17


MacArthur Park


2230 W. 6th Street, Los Angeles

  • Thursday, December 6


Club Cobra


10937 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood
Testing: 9:00pm – 1:00am ($10 drink voucher included)

  • Saturday, December 1
  • Saturday, December 8
  • Saturday, December 22 


Club Chico


2915 W. Beverly Boulevard, Montebello
Free $10 drink voucher with testing
Testing hours: 9:00pm – 1:00am 

  • Friday, December 14
  • Thursday, December 20
  • Friday, December 28


Flux Bar


17817 Lakewood Boulevard, Bellflower
Testing hours: 8:00pm – 12:00am 

  • Tuesday, December 11


The Crest Bar


5935 Cherry Avenue, Long Beach
Testing hours: 8:00pm – 1:00am 

  • Friday, December 21
     

Cal State University Dominguez Hills


1000 E. Victoria Street, Carson 

  • Tuesday, December 4
  • Wednesday, December 12


You can walk in for free HIV testing at our Indiana location at 512 S. Indiana St., Los Angeles, CA 90063 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also visit one of our primary care locations today to get tested. If you or a loved one is living with HIV, we can connect you with options and services to help maintain the best quality of health.

Learn more at https://www.altamed.org/hivaids-care
 

AltaMed Releases Season 3 of Sin Vergüenza in Honor of World AIDS Day

December 04, 2017

In honor of World AIDS Day, AltaMed has produced a third season of the award-winning telenovela, “Sin Vergüenza!” Season 3 is a dramatic four-episode bilingual series that takes viewers through the life of the Salazars, a fictional Mexican-American family, dealing with an HIV diagnosis.

This series was introduced in 2015 to reduce the stigma and shame of HIV while increasing awareness of the importance of HIV testing and treatment. Although the series addresses issues that may be difficult for families to face, it demonstrates that there is hope to overcoming these challenges through the unconditional love and support of family.

Season 3 is currently available on AltaMed’s website and YouTube channel. To learn more about “Sin Vergüenza” or AltaMed, visit www.altamed.org/svseries.

Know the Facts

key HIV statistics

AltaMed has provided quality HIV and AIDS health care to Southern California communities for more than 20 years. Our primary care clinics are staffed by teams of highly-skilled professionals in the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS. We offer a variety of free and confidential options for you to get tested and learn your status, including walk-in hours at multiple locations, scheduled appointments, and HIV testing mobile units at community events and nightclubs in Los Angeles. Visit www.altamed.org/hivaids-care for more information.