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HIV – 7 Things You Need to Know

HIV is a scary disease – despite the best efforts of the medical community, there is no cure, no effective vaccine and HIV therapies are expensive with significant side effects. And while we have a good understanding of the disease, it is estimated that 1 in 7 of the 1,000,000+ HIV positive people in the United States do not know they are infected – thus increasing the risk of transmission. Following are 7 important facts about HIV:

  1. Injected drug use and the sharing of needles is one of the most common transmission methods for the virus.
  2. Unprotected sex increases the risk of transmitting HIV with anal sex having the highest risk of sexual transmission.
  3. It’s not easy to get HIV – casual contact with an HIV positive person is not enough to get the disease. HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, rectal fluid and breast milk.
  4. Viral load makes a difference. The viral load is the concentration of HIV in the blood and can vary widely depending on the stage of the disease and the effectiveness of treatment. A lower viral load means less risk of transmitting the disease.
  5. HIV does not survive for long outside of the body. So, catching HIV from blood on a surface is unlikely.
  6. You can contract multiple forms of HIV. Known as superinfection, an HIV positive person can actually contract another strain of HIV. The effects and severity of superinfection can vary between patients.
  7. The spread of HIV can be halted even after the exposure if proper measures are taken immediately. When started within 72 hours, intensive therapy for one month, followed by 12 months of follow-up can, in some cases, prevent infection.


HIV In the Substance Abuse Treatment Setting                                                          

Because of the higher likelihood of transmitting HIV when using injected drugs, treatment centers must be prepared for HIV positive patients. Having HIV or AIDS does not preclude an individual from getting appropriate and comprehensive substance abuse treatment. However, those suffering from a disease such as HIV require additional and specialized care. The treatment of HIV within the recovery setting is complex and multi-faceted.

When dealing with HIV and drug abuse (and possibly even mental health considerations), the treatment center must have the resources and competence to handle the conditions simultaneously. This means having a medical doctor on staff. Choosing a facility such as Fellowship Hall, with the expertise to treat serious medical issues like these is an important consideration for those affected by HIV.