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HIV Facts and Help

(HIV Facts and Help first appeared in the Public Opinion Newspaper, click here to read it online.)

According to the CDC, more than a million people in the United States are living with HIV infection with an estimated one out of five HIV-positive Americans unaware of their infection. Dr. Raghavendra Tirupathi, medical director of Keystone Infectious Diseases and the Keystone Health HIV program, and internal medicine physician at Keystone Internal Medicine says learning about HIV and how it’s acquired is the best prevention.

Govindaraju
What is HIV?
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, damages a person’s body by destroying specific blood cells which are crucial to help the body fight disease. HIV, if left untreated, can develop into AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a stage of HIV infection where a person’s immune system is severely damaged and has difficulty fighting disease and certain cancers.

How is HIV not spread? How is it spread?
HIV is not spread by saliva, kissing, shaking hands or sharing utensils. It is not spread through insect bites, air or water. HIV is transmitted through sex with either a man or woman without the use of condoms. HIV can also be spread through using IV drugs or having a partner who uses IV drugs. Pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby by pregnancy or through breastfeeding. Getting tattoos or body piercing does present a potential risk if obtained from an unlicensed facility or in an unsterile way.

Get tested
Everyone between the age of 13 and 64 should be tested at least once in their lifetime, even if you don’t think you are at risk. For those who have had more than one partner in the last six months, have a history of sexually transmitted disease in the last year or have a history of IV drug use, you should be tested at least once every year. For those who have high risk sexual behaviors, multiple partners, have sex in exchange for money, or use injection drugs, testing is recommended every three to six months.

Free Testing Available
In Franklin County, free and confidential HIV testing is provided on a walk-in basis at three locations: Keystone Internal Medicine, Keystone Community Outreach (51 S. Main Street, Chambersburg), and Keystone Family Planning. The completely confidential testing is very quick—It only takes a few minutes and results are ready in less than half an hour. This non-invasive test is done by simply swabbing the gums—no blood is involved. No appointment is needed, you can simply walk in.

Know your status
Getting tested is important to know your status. It helps you to protect yourself and your loved ones from acquiring the infection. The good news is there is help available in our community for those who are HIV positive – The Keystone Health HIV program provides help and support services to HIV+ individuals in our community. If HIV is detected early and treated, you can expect a higher quality of life and a longer life.

For more information about Keystone Health’s HIV Program, click here.
This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.

HIV Questions and Answers

(HIV Questions and Answers by Dr. Raghavendra Tirupathi, medical director of Keystone Infectious Diseases and the Keystone Health HIV program, and internal medicine physician at Keystone Internal Medicine, first appeared in the Public Opinion Newspaper in 2012. To read it online, visit www.publicopiniononline.com.)

According to the CDC, more than a million people in the United States are living with  HIV infection with an estimated one out of five HIV-positive Americans unaware of their infection. Learning about HIV and how it’s acquired is the best prevention.

What is HIV?

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, damages a person’s body by destroying specific blood cells which are crucial to help the body fight disease. HIV, if left untreated, can develop into AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a stage of HIV infection where a person’s immune system is severely damaged and has difficulty fighting disease and certain cancers.

How is HIV not spread?

HIV is not spread by saliva, kissing, shaking hands or sharing utensils. It is not spread through insect bites, air or water.

How is it spread?

HIV is transmitted through sex with either a man or woman without the use of condoms. HIV can also be spread through using IV drugs or having a partner who uses IV drugs. Pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby by pregnancy or through breastfeeding. Getting tattoos or body piercing does present a potential risk if obtained from an unlicensed facility or in an unsterile way.

Get tested

Everyone between the age of 13 and 64 should be tested at least once in their lifetime, even if you don’t think you are at risk. For those who have had more than one partner in the last six months, have a history of sexually transmitted disease in the last year or have a history of IV drug use, you should be tested at least once every year. For those who have high risk sexual behaviors, multiple partners, have sex in exchange for money, or use injection drugs, testing is recommended every three to six months.

Free Testing Available

In Franklin County, free and confidential HIV testing is provided on a walk-in basis at three locations.

  • Keystone Internal Medicine (830 Fifth Ave., Chambersburg) – Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
  • Keystone Community Outreach (51 S. Main Street, Chambersburg) – Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
  • Keystone Family Planning (820 Fifth Ave., Chambersburg) – Tuesday from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm

The completely confidential testing is a very quick process. It only takes a few minutes and results are ready in less than half an hour. This non-invasive test is done by simply swabbing the gums—no blood is involved. No appointment is needed, you can simply walk in.

Getting tested is important to know your status. It helps you to protect yourself and your loved ones from acquiring the infection. The good news is there is help available in our community for those who are HIV positive – The Keystone Health HIV program provides help and support services to HIV+ individuals in our community. If HIV is detected early and treated, you can expect a higher quality of life and a longer life.

Dr. Raghavendra Tirupathi is medical director of the Keystone Health HIV and Infectious Diseases program and Internal Medicine physician at Keystone Internal Medicine in Chambersburg, PA. 

For more information about Keystone Health’s HIV Program, click here.