When it comes to public safety, stopping the spread of disease is among the top priorities. For the past several decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has worked with health care providers across the United States to come up with a program to help partners of HIV patients find the services they need.
Here at River Oaks ER, we have joined the effort. We offer services designed to help prevent infection in partners of HIV patients through notification, testing, education, and prevention counseling in order to keep our Houston area patients as healthy as possible and free from disease.
Here’s a look at some of the services we provide to those who are in contact with HIV-positive partners.
When it comes to HIV, the two main ways the disease is spread is through sexual contact or sharing needles. With that in mind, when we say partner, we mean to include anyone who may be exposed to HIV through either of those two avenues.
When it comes to preventing HIV, the task can be especially difficult because, of the 1-1.2 million Americans who are living with an HIV infection, a full 25% of them aren’t aware they have the condition. The CDC estimates that these people unwittingly account for 54-70% of new infections, which is where partner notification comes in. With notification, the incidence of transmission drops to only 8%.
In creating a partner services program, the CDC, and River Oaks Emergency, endorses the “appropriate use of public health resources to identify infected persons, notify their partners of their possible exposure, and provide infected persons and their partners a range of medical, prevention, and psychosocial services [that] can have positive results, including 1) positive behavior changes and reduced infectiousness; 2) decreased STD/HIV transmission; and 3) reduced STD/HIV incidence and improved public health.”
Here at River Oaks Emergency, your privacy is of the utmost importance, so rest assured that our partner and prevention services are completely confidential. Our only goal is to get you the medical care and counseling you need to safeguard your health.
If you’ve been notified that you’ve come into contact with someone with HIV, or you have made this discovery on your own, our health care providers help you negotiate your options so that you can protect yourself against infection.
The first step in this process is to test for the disease. If your test results come back negative, you can breathe a sigh of relief and arm yourself better for the future. To that end, we counsel you on how to protect yourself, whether it’s through practicing safe sex or avoiding sharing needles. Our medical staff offers nonjudgmental and educational services that show you how you can avoid being infected by HIV by implementing a few easy practices that keep you out of harm’s way.
If your test results come back positive, there are many steps you can take to head off the complications of the infection in its early stages and also prevent you from spreading it others. The antiviral drugs that are commonly used for HIV can reduce the viral load in your body to near undetectable levels, which means you have less chance of passing the infection on to others. And the drugs help you live with the infection without enduring some of the more serious complications that come with a severely compromised immune system.
Thanks to new treatment protocols, partner notification, prevention services, and education, we can help you stay one step ahead of HIV.
To learn more about our prevention and partner services, please feel free to give us a call or come in any time of the day or night — we’re open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.