AIDS RESOURCE ALLIANCE

AR NEWS

New programs added:

 

Counseling:

AIDS Resource is now offering  our clients mental health counseling on-site.  Our counseling is:

  • Absolutely free.  No insurance is required.  There is no co-pay.
  • Offered at our offices, a safe, comfortable space
  • Provided by a licensed social worker who has special training in and a deep understanding of the unique challenges our clients face.

 

For more information about our counseling services, please see your Case Manager.

 

Yoga:

We are now offering regular yoga classes at our Williamsport office and at a yoga studio in State College.  These classes are absolutely free for clients.  For more information, please see your Case Manager.

 

Nutritional Supplements:

For those clients with a medical need, Boost or Ensure is available and can be delivered directly to your door.  For more information, please see your Case Manager.

 

Dental Hygiene Supplies:

We offer free toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss to all clients.  Please see your Case Manager.

 

Vision/Eye Health Clinic

AIDS Resource works with an optometrist to provide free vision and eye health exams and free glasses.

 

FAQS

A glossary of terms used is at the bottom of this page.

 

AIDS is a very serious disease. It is caused by HIV, a blood borne virus. AIDS occurs when HIV is left untreated and badly weakens the body’s immune system. Many people with HIV or AIDS look healthy and have no symptoms. You cannot tell by looking at a person if they are infected. In fact, many people who are infected with HIV do not know that they are HIV+.  HIV and AIDS are not the same thing.  A person can live a healthy and normal life-span while being HIV-positive.

 

For general information, guidelines on preventing transmission, and information on testing, call AIDS Resource at 570-322-8448.

 

What is HIV?

HIV is a disease that:

 

• Is caused by a blood borne virus (known as HIV)

• Reduces the body's ability to fight infections

• Often leads to AIDS, which may result in death

 

What is AIDS?

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a disease complex characterized by a collapse of the body’s natural immunity. Because of this failure of the immune system, patients with AIDS are vulnerable to unusual infections and illnesses that usually pose no threat to a person whose immune system is working normally.

 

What causes AIDS?

AIDS is caused by infection with a virus called Human Immunodeficiency Virus HIV). This virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact. In addition, pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Most of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.

 

What rights do persons with HIV or AIDS have?

Because of legal protections through various Acts and other laws, they cannot be discriminated against:

 

• In employment

• In housing, public accommodations or education

• In delivery of services

 

HIV/AIDS - TRANSMISSION AND PREVENTION

 

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV can be passed through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, birth and breast milk, such as:

• through unprotected sex (vaginal, anal, and oral) with an infected person

• through sharing contaminated needles (e.g. to inject drugs/vitamins/steroids or for tattoos and piercings)

• from infected mother to baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding

• through direct exposure to infected blood or blood products

 

How is HIV NOT transmitted?

• Through casual contact, such as sharing glasses, holding hands or shaking hands

• Through normal work place environments

• Through eating in restaurants, insect bites, coughs or sneezes, perspiration, telephones or toilets

• It is not an airborne virus

 

How contagious is HIV?

Unlike most transmissible diseases (colds, flus, measles, etc.), HIV is not transmitted through sneezing, coughing, eating or drinking from common utensils, or merely being around an infected person. Casual contact with HIV infected persons does not place others at risk. AIDS is not transmitted through air, food, or water, or by touching any object handled, touched, or breathed on by a person with an HIV/AIDS infection.

 

Can use of a latex condom during sex reduce the risk of transmitting AIDS?

Studies have shown that latex condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV transmission when used consistently and correctly. These studies looked at uninfected people considered to be at very high risk of infection because they were involved in sexual relationships with HIV-infected people. The studies found that even with repeated sexual contact, 98-100 percent of those people who used latex condoms correctly and consistently did not become infected.

 

How can I protect myself?

 

Use Condoms:

 

• Check the expiration date on the package

• Don’t use after that date

• Don’t use your teeth, nails or other sharp objects to open the package

• Don’t use damaged condoms

• Use only water-based lubricant.  Petroleum-based will damage the latex of the condom

• Get tested - know your HIV status.

• Abstain - to abstain means reducing your risk by not engaging in risky sexual behaviors

• Do not share needles:

 

If you use needles, do not share them with others. If you are sharing needles, make sure you clean them thoroughly with bleach. Recently Pennsylvania legislation allows pharmacies to sell needles without a prescription. Although doing so is up to the individual pharmacy, you may be able to purchase clean needles at your pharmacy.

 

Is there a danger of contracting HIV from donating blood or from a blood transfusion?

No. Blood banks and other blood collection centers use sterile equipment and disposable needles. The need for blood is always acute, and people who are not at increased risk for HIV are urged to donate blood as they have in the past. The risk of contracting AIDS through a blood transfusion has been significantly reduced since the introduction of antibody screening of all blood donations. Blood found HIV antibody-positive is removed from the transfusion pool. The risk of contracting AIDS from a blood transfusion is extremely minimal.

 

Who should take precautions?

Everyone should evaluate their private lives and use precautions to reduce the likelihood of exposure to HIV. At work, those who handle blood or blood products should be knowledgeable of, and follow, established safety procedures known as universal precautions.

 

What is "very low" risk?

• Do not have sex

• Having sex with a person who is living with HIV, but has an undetectable viral load and is on medications to stay that way, presents “zero” risk according to the Division of HIV/AIDS at the National Institute of Health, and NASTAD(National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors).  This is based on multiple long-term medical studies conducted in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.

• Do not use injection drugs (including steroids)

• Never reuse or share syringes and equipment

 

What is "low risk"?

• Have sex with only 1 person and always use condoms

• Cleaning injection drug equipment with bleach and water (three times), be sure to end on water

• Using a new syringe, bottle caps, spoons, cookers, cottons, or other containers

 

What is "somewhat high" risk?

• Have sex with only 1 person but don't always use condoms

• Having sex with more than 1 person but always use condoms

• Sharing unclean needles and equipment or reusing water with the same group of people

 

What is "high" risk?

• Have sex with more than one person but don't always use condoms

• Having unprotected sex with a person who is living with HIV, but hasn’t been tested so therefore they don’t know their status.  Because they’re not on ART(anti-retroviral therapy), medications that control HIV and can lead to an undetectable viral load, they can transmit the virus to others.

• Sharing blood contaminated needles, spoons, cookers, cotton (or those not cleaned with bleach) with more than one person

• AIDS Resource can do a personalized assessment of your risk and recommend ways you can reduce your risk of contracting HIV. Call us at 570-322-8448 for more information.

 

HIV/AIDS - GLOSSARY

 

Act 148 of 1990: Pennsylvania’s state law, which addresses confidentiality of HIV-related information.

 

AIDS (Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndrome): A diagnosis of AIDS is made by a physician using certain clinical or laboratory standards.

 

ART:  Anti-retroviral Therapy.  ART is any medication(s) that treat HIV.  Normally, when a person has been on ART they achieve an undetectable/low viral load and become uninfectious.  In other words, they will not transmit HIV to others through sexual contact and it greatly reduces the chance of transmitting it through sharing needles/works for injection-drug users.

 

Blood-to-Blood Transmission: When a significant amount of blood from an infected person enters the bloodstream of an uninfected person. Often this occurs through shared contaminated needles or through needlestick injuries directly into the bloodstream.

 

Casual Contact: The type of close, everyday contact you have with others at work. You do not get HIV from casual contact.

 

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus): The virus that can cause AIDS. If left untreated, HIV destroys the body’s ability to fight other diseases by weakening the immune system.

 

HIV Antibody Test: A test which indicates whether a person is infected with HIV. The test identifies antibodies to the virus rather than the virus itself. It takes from six weeks to six months from initial infection to when the test shows antibodies. This lag time is termed the “window period”, a period when the test does NOT show antibodies, but the person IS infected and CAN infect others.

 

Undetectable: If, through ART medications, a person’s viral load is so low that it can’t be detected in their blood stream anymore, they are said to have an undetectable viral load or “undetectable” for short.

 

Universal Precautions: Workplace precautions that are used whenever blood may be encountered which prevent the transmission of HIV and other blood borne diseases.

 

Viral load:  This is determined via a blood test that measures the number of copies of the HIV virus in a sample of a person’s blood.

 

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AIDS Resource Alliance, 500 W Third St, Williamsport, PA 17701