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How to prevent and treat HIV?

HIV and AIDS remain a persistent problem for the United States and countries around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.1 million people in the United States were living with HIV at the end of 2014.

However, after decades of fighting HIV in the U.S. we now have more preventive tools with proven effectiveness to reduce the risk of HIV infection. HIV is not a death sentence any more.

Currently, a variety of federally funded programs provide HIV testing and linkage to care services as well as supporting the provision of HIV care and treatment through the Ryan White Care Act Program. In Georgia, the Division of Health Protection of Georgia Department of Public Health has launched HIV prevention programs including the CAPUS Project and the Georgia Prevention and Care Council (G-PACC).

Effective HIV prevention programs require a holistic approach to address socio-cultural, economic, political, legal, and other contextual factors that contribute to the health of people living with HIV. Nowadays, HIV preventive interventions focus on combination prevention with simultaneous use of complementary behavioral, biomedical and structural prevention strategies.

Behavioral interventions seek to reduce the risk of HIV transmission by addressing risky behaviors. Examples of Behavioral interventions include:​

  • information provision (such as sex education

  • counseling and other forms of psycho-social support

  • safe infant feeding guidelines

  • stigma and discrimination reduction programs​​

Biomedical interventions use a mix of clinical and

medical approaches to reduce HIV transmission. Examples of biomedical interventions include:

  • male and female condoms

  • antiretroviral drugs

  • HIV testing and counseling

  • testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections

  • blood screening.

Structural interventions seek to address social discourse factors that make individuals vulnerable to HIV

infection. These can be social, economic, political or environmental. Examples of structural interventions include:

  • interventions addressing gender, economic and social inequality

  • interventions to protect individuals from police harassment and violence

  • laws protecting the rights of people living with HIV.

At Aniz, we offer a wide range of member services including HIV testing, substance use counseling, mental health counseling, behavior health services, peer support, etc. Our services and programs focus on specific social, legal, economic and cultural drivers of HIV prevalence in different population groups. Examples of our programs include but are not limited to:

  • AFLASH is a gender-specific program to improve communication and decision-making skills and to reduce risky behaviors for African-American adolescent girls.

  • Grandparents Hands (GPH) is an innovative program to educate men and women over the age of 55 on HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) risks and prevention measures.

  • Holistic Harm Reduction Program (HHRP)/ High Impact Prevention Program (HIPP) help individuals learn their HIV status and link newly diagnosed individuals and those returning to care to treatment programs.

If you are newly diagnosed with HIV, don’t panic. Countless people and resources are available to help you and more than 1 million people living with HIV in the U.S. today. Here are a few guideposts to help you through this difficult time:

  1. ​See a health care provider immediately: You can work closely with your health care providers to decide when to start HIV medicines and what HIV medicines to take.

  2. Educate yourself about HIV: Knowledge is power, especially when that knowledge can save your life. You can read about HIV in other sections of this web site and seek information from government or nonprofit educational organizations with a focus on HIV and AIDS

  3. Seek support services: You can disclose your HIV status to your family and close friends if you feel this can help reduce your stress. Ask your doctor about local HIV/AIDS support groups and ask for a referral to a mental health professional if you need.

  4. Protect others from becoming HIV-positive: You can protect others by using condoms and clean needles. By doing this, you can also protect yourself from other strains of HIV. Also, don't donate blood. If you are a woman, you can spread HIV to your baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. Ask your doctor what you can do to protect your child. Proper treatment has nearly wiped out the spread of infection to newborns in the U.S.

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