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Every year more than 15 million new STI cases are diagnosed in the United States. STIs are more common than most people think especially among young, sexually active individuals.
Most STIs are easily cured if they are caught early. Unfortunately, many people don't seek treatment because they have no symptoms and are unaware that they are infected or because they are uncomfortable getting treatment from their regular health care provider. If left untreated, some STIs can cause severe health problems or even death.
ARC Ohio offers STI testing at select offices in a confidential and supportive environment that is sensitive to your needs. We believe in early diagnosis and treatment of STIs to optimize your health.
For info on STI testing availability or to schedule an appointment in your area select your nearest office location below:
Toledo & Northwest Ohio
Cincinnati/Hamilton County Area
You can also find comprehensive STI info, along with localized info on testing locations and free condom availability by calling the Ohio Prevention Hotline at 1-800-332-2437. The Hotline is staffed by trained volunteers and AIDS Resource Center Ohio Prevention and Education staff and operates Monday thru Friday, 9am to 5pm. Information is available 24 hours a day on the Hotline site at preventhivstdohio.com.
Over the course of the domestic epidemic HIV or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus has progressed from what was once considered a death sentence to now a longterm chronic illness. Studies have shown that an individual who begins treatment and remains adherent to their medication is 96% less likely to transmit the virus, However, 1 in 5 people living with HIV don’t know that they have it. Of those that do, only 1 in 4 are on medications, adherent, and virally suppressed - which underscores the importance of knowing your status and being linked to care.
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and in some may lead to AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Over time, and without treatment, HIV gradually destroys the body's defenses against disease, leaving it vulnerable to many infections and cancers that do not normally develop. Even without treatment, some people living with HIV have no symptoms; some have mild health problems, while others have severe health problems associated with AIDS.
With proper treatment, some people now living with HIV may never develop AIDS. Studies suggest that starting treatment early in the course of infection can significantly improve long-term treatment success with near normal life expectancy.
HIV is a virus. AIDS is a condition brought about by the virus HIV. You can have HIV without having AIDS.
H - Human: because this virus can only infect human beings.
I - Immuno-deficiency: because the effect of the virus is to create a deficiency, or a failure to work properly, within the body's immune system.
V - Virus: because this organism is a virus, which means one of its characteristics is that it is incapable of reproducing by itself. It reproduces by taking over the machinery of the human cell.
A - Acquired: because it is a condition one must acquire or get infected with; not something transmitted through the genes
I - Immune: because it affects the body's immune system, the part of the body which usually works to fight off germs such as bacteria and viruses
D - Deficiency: because it makes the immune system deficient (makes it not work properly)
S - Syndrome: because someone with AIDS may experience a wide range of different diseases and opportunistic infections
HIV can be transmitted from an infected person to another through:
Blood contains the highest concentration of the virus, followed by semen, followed by vaginal fluids, followed by breast milk.
Unprotected sexual contact Direct blood contact, particularly through sharing injection drug needles. Infections due to blood transfusions, accidents in health care settings or certain blood products are possible, although they are extremely rare nowadays in the United States. Mother to baby (before or during birth, or through breast milk)
Sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal): In the genitals and the rectum, HIV may infect the mucous membranes directly or enter through cuts and sores caused during intercourse (many of which would be unnoticed). Anal and vaginal intercourse are high-risk practices.
Oral sex (mouth-penis, mouth-vagina): The mouth is an inhospitable environment for HIV (in semen, vaginal fluid or blood), meaning the risk of HIV transmission through the throat, gums, and oral membranes is lower than through vaginal or anal membranes. There are documented cases where HIV was transmitted orally, so we can't say that getting HIV-infected semen, vaginal fluid or blood in the mouth is without risk. However, oral sex is considered a low risk practice.
Sharing injection needles: An injection needle can pass blood directly from one person's bloodstream to another. It is a very efficient way to transmit a blood-borne virus. Sharing needles is considered a high-risk practice.
Mother to Child: Mother to child transmission is now rare in the US and other developed countries because pregnant women who are HIV-positive are normally given medications to prevent the fetus from getting infected. However, it is possible for an HIV-infected mother to pass the virus directly before or during birth, or through breast milk. Breast milk contains HIV, and while small amounts of breast milk do not pose significant threat of infection to adults, it is a viable means of transmission to infants.
The following "bodily fluids" are NOT infectious:
Primary HIV infection is the first stage of HIV disease, when the virus first establishes itself in the body. Some researchers use the term acute HIV infection to describe the period of time between when a person is first infected with HIV and when antibodies against the virus are produced by the body (usually 6- 12 weeks).
Some people newly infected with HIV will experience some "flu-like" symptoms. These symptoms, which usually last no more than a few days, might include fevers, chills, night sweats and rashes (not cold-like symptoms). Many other people either do not experience acute symptoms, or have symptoms so mild that they may not notice them.
Given the general character of the symptoms of acute infection, they can easily have causes other than HIV, such as a flu infection. For example, if you had some risk for HIV a few days ago and are now experiencing flu-like symptoms, it might be possible that HIV is responsible for the symptoms, but it is also possible that you have some other viral infection.
There are no common symptoms for individuals diagnosed with AIDS. When immune system damage is more severe, people may experience opportunistic infections(called "opportunistic" because they are caused by organisms which cannot induce disease in people with normal immune systems, but take the "opportunity" to flourish in people with HIV). Most of these more severe infections, diseases, and symptoms fall under the Centers for Disease Control's definition of AIDS. The median time to receive an AIDS diagnosis among those infected with HIV is 7-10 years.
The time it takes for a person who has been infected with HIV to seroconvert (test positive) for HIV antibodies is commonly called the "Window Period".
Recent studies show that a test taken at least 12 weeks (3 months) after the last possible exposure to the virus provides highly accurate results. Based on those studies, many testing clinics in California and other places use a 3 month window period. Rarely, a person could take up to six months to produce antibodies and that is almost always a person with a severely compromised immune system due to another disease, such as leukemia.
If you test negative on an antibody test taken 3 months or longer after your last possible risk of possible exposure to HIV, you can feel safe in assuming that you do not have the virus. If for some reason you feel anxiety about relying on the 3-month result, you could opt to have another test taken again at 6 months.
Anonymous and Confidential use the same testing method. The only difference is one does not have your name attached to the results.
Anonymous antibody testing is available at Anonymous Test Sites in some California counties. Anonymous testing means that absolutely no one has access to your test results since your name is never recorded at the test site. It is always a good idea to contact the testing clinic directly to confirm what type of test is available.
Confidential antibody testing means that you and the health care provider know your results, which may be recorded in your medical file.
A positive result means that:
A negative result means that:
A negative result does NOT mean:
Testing positive for HIV means that you now carry the virus that causes AIDS. It does not mean that you have AIDS, nor does it mean that you will die as a result of the infection. Although there is no cure for AIDS, many opportunistic infections that make people sick can be controlled, prevented or eliminated. This has substantially increased the longevity and quality of life for people living with HIV.
The short answer is yes. There are things that you can do to stay healthy.
Emotional support may be very important for HIV-positive people because it breaks the isolation and provides a safe way of sharing both feelings and practical information
Medical Care: Once you find a primary care provider, your main objective is to get an evaluation of your general health and immune function.
Many doctors do the following:
If you are already infected with one or more of these other illnesses, there may be treatments or prophylaxis available to prevent it from becoming more serious or recurring in the future. If you are not already infected, doctors may be able to prevent future infection by:
Although there have been many advances in HIV treatments and therapies in recent years that have dramatically improved the quality of life and life expectancy of persons with HIV/AIDS in the US and other developed countries, there is, as of yet, no cure.
If you believe you are at risk for HIV disease, you may also be at risk for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs – formerly known as STDs). Unsafe sexual activity and the sharing of needles during injection drug use are behaviors that put you at risk.
Early diagnosis through STI testing and early treatment are actions you can take to protect your health from these diseases.
Forget what you've heard about treatment for HIV. HIV treatment today is a world away from what it was even two years ago. There are more options than ever before, many of which involve fewer pills, fewer doses, and fewer side effects than medications from the early days of the epidemic.
There is now a wide range of HIV medications available to people in the United States that fall into six different categories according to the method by which they interfere with HIV reproducing itself in the body. The range of medications is important, because to be effective the drugs must be taken in combination with others in order to attack the virus from many different points in the replication process. This is often called, “combination therapy,” on an HIV “regimen.” Although no singular regimen can cure HIV, they are able, by and large, to prevent further damage to your body once you start taking them. The most important thing about therapy is “adherence,” or taking your medications everyday as they’re prescribed. Missing doses can lead to the virus finding ways around your drugs and developing resistance. The better your treatment adherence, the better your chances for living a long and healthy life on treatment.
The two key markers that are used to gauge how well the meds are working are viral load (a measure of how much virus is in your blood stream) and T-cell count (a measure of the health of your immune system). The goal is to have an undetectable viral load and a high T-cell count. The San Francisco Department of Public Health now recommends that people start taking HIV medications as soon as they find out they are infected.
As soon as you test positive, the first thing to do is find the most experienced HIV specialist you can. ARC Ohio can help you find the right provider in your area. Generally, you should visit your doctor for a checkup every three months to find out if and how the HIV in your body is progressing.
In addition to determining your T-cell count and viral load, your doctor should also conduct resistance tests to determine which medications will work best for you given the particular variation of the virus in your body and what meds it is resistant to. Then you and your doctor will have a clear picture of how HIV has progressed in your body and what medications you should start taking.
If you believe you may be at risk for HIV disease the most important action you can take is to get an HIV test. Knowing your HIV status – whether you are, or are not infected with HIV – empowers you to make decisions so you can live a long healthy life.
ARC Ohio provides free HIV testing at many convenient locations throughout Ohio. It is an easy test to take. An oral swab that is quick and painless will provide you with test results in twenty minutes. Your HIV test will be administered by a specialist from ARC Ohio who will explain the test and ask for your written consent to be tested. The tester will also provide you with information on how to reduce your risk for HIV infection and will answer all your questions with sensitivity to your concerns.
You will have the choice of getting an anonymous HIV test or a confidential HIV test.
An anonymous HIV test does not require you to provide your name or other personal identifiable information. A number or an alternative identifier will be used to track your HIV test. Your personal identity will not be disclosed for the HIV test.
A confidential HIV test requires that you provide your name and other personal identifying information for purposes of tracking your HIV test. Your personal identity will be disclosed for the HIV test.
You will receive your HIV test results during your testing appointment. The HIV specialist will explain your results and answer any questions you may have. Your test results will be either HIV negative or HIV reactive.
If your test is HIV negative it means that no antibodies to HIV were detected in your body. However, it can take up to three months after you may have been exposed to HIV for your body to produce enough antibodies to be detected by the test. If you have not had an HIV risk activity in the past three months you are considered to be HIV negative with no HIV infection. If you have had an HIV risk activity within the past three months we recommend that you return for another HIV test three months following your most recent risk activity to confirm your HIV negative status.
If your test is HIV reactive it means that HIV antibodies have been detected in your body. A confirmatory HIV test is then required to double check whether HIV antibodies are present. This is done through a blood draw that is processed at a medical laboratory. If the results of this confirmatory test are positive for HIV antibodies then you will have a diagnosis of HIV infection.
Not knowing your HIV status may have major consequences for your health. If you are HIV infected, not knowing this fact means your treatment for HIV is delayed which may result in severe illness. Knowing your status means that you can take action to get the immediate medical care you need for successful treatment and a long healthy life. You will also be better able to take precautions to protect your loved ones and partners from HIV.
If you are not infected with HIV, knowing this fact means that you have been tested for HIV and have received expert counseling on how HIV is transmitted and how to reduce your risk for HIV infection. Not being tested for HIV means that you may not understand this life saving HIV risk reduction information.
ARC Ohio provides more than 4,000 free HIV tests every year at various ARC Ohio facilities throughout Ohio and through ARC Ohio prevention programs and outreach locations.
To see testing hours or to schedule an appointment in your area select your location below:
Columbus & Central Ohio
Dayton, Springfield and the Miami Valley
Lima, Findlay & West Central Ohio
Mansfield, Marion & North Central Ohio
Toledo & Northwest Ohio
Cincinnati/Hamilton County Area
The following are behaviors that increase your chances of getting HIV. If you answer yes to any of them, you should get an HIV test. If you continue with any of these behaviors, you should be tested every year.
If you have had sex with someone whose history of sex partners and/or drug use is unknown to you or if you or your partner has had many sex partners, then you have more of a chance of being infected with HIV. Both you and your new partner should get tested for HIV, and learn the results, before having sex for the first time.
For women who plan to become pregnant, testing is even more important. If a woman is infected with HIV, medical care and certain drugs given during pregnancy can lower the chance of passing HIV to her baby. All women who are pregnant should be tested during each pregnancy. -from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Of the more than one million people estimated to be living with HIV in the United States, one in five don't know they're infected. The best way to fight HIV is to know your status.
Until a cure for HIV is found, preventing the spread of HIV is our greatest challenge. Saving lives from HIV requires aggressive strategies to reach people at high risk with information and materials they can use to prevent HIV infection.
All our prevention services are nonjudgmental. Our purpose is to help you reduce or eliminate your risk behaviors so you can protect yourself from HIV. If you are at risk for HIV we will never judge you or your behaviors.
Our aggressive community outreach strategies and social network interventions are also reaching tens of thousands of gay men, youth and women who are at high risk for HIV.
HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing is an important part of our prevention strategies. Knowing your HIV status empowers you to make decisions that are right for you and take action so you can live a long and healthy life.
Our multicultural HIV prevention staff are located all across Ohio. They are experienced and dedicated to helping you remain HIV free.