Happy Pride!When it comes to HIV, PA residents are not exempt from the risks. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, all residents should be aware of the potential health risks associated with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus): as of 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 40,200 people in the state of PA currently living with an HIV infection.

But if you're a Pennsylvania resident, how much do you know about how HIV affects your state? Do you know about your resources, such as HIV testing and preventative medications like PrEP and PEP?

The truth is, many Pennsylvania residents are not aware of the resources available to them when it comes to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). That's why PrEP2Me has made it easier for Pennsylvanians to access PrEP medications quickly and conveniently. By providing discreet care and prescription delivery online, we are helping PA residents take control of their sexual health.

Here are some important facts about HIV in Pennsylvania every resident should know:

What is HIV?

HIV is a virus that weakens the body's immune system and compromises its ability to fight off infections and diseases. The virus attaches itself to the body's CD4 cells and replicates, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infection.

People living with an HIV infection may not show any symptoms for years, but if left untreated, it could lead one to develop AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). AIDS is the most severe form of HIV and is usually diagnosed when an individual has a compromised immune system that is unable to fight off infections.

How Does HIV Commonly Spread in PA?

In general, HIV is spread through contact with infected bodily fluids, including infected blood, semen, and vaginal secretions, but it's important to know the activities and behaviors that can put you at risk for HIV in PA.

According to the 2020 Annual HIV Surveillance Report from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Epidemiology, the top three modes of transmission in the state are:

  • Sexual contact between men who have sex with men (MSM): HIV is much more common among MSM due to the increased risk of transmission that comes with unprotected intercourse.
  • Injection drug use (IDU): IDU is a major risk factor for HIV when those who inject drugs share needles that have been contaminated with someone else's blood.
  • Heterosexual sex: Though most of the stigma surrounding HIV is directed toward gay and trans people, HIV can be (and is) transmitted during unprotected heterosexual sex as well.

While these are the most common modes of transmission, it’s important to note that the virus can still be spread through other means, including mother-to-child transmission during childbirth or breastfeeding, and through transfusions of contaminated blood.

Can HIV Be Treated in PA?

Absolutely. HIV treatment has been available in the state of Pennsylvania for decades, but it has become much more accessible and effective in recent years. The most common treatment for HIV is called antiretroviral therapy (ART), which can reduce the amount of virus present in an infected person's blood (viral load) to undetectable levels, help the body fight infection, and greatly improve their prognosis.

If your HIV status is positive and you're in need of culturally competent, experienced, and passionate care in Western Pennsylvania, visit one of our PA Central Outreach Wellness Center locations in Pittsburgh, Washington, Aliquippa, or Erie.

Preventing HIV in Pennsylvania

Getting Tested for HIV

One of the most important tools in fighting the HIV epidemic in Pennsylvania is being aware of who can transmit HIV and who needs treatment to become undetectable. An HIV test is the only way to accurately determine your HIV status and whether or not you need treatment.

Whether you’re at risk of HIV infection or simply want to confirm your negative status, getting tested can give you peace of mind, not just that you aren't in need of treatment, but that you're not transmitting HIV to any of your sexual partners.

Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

PrEP is an HIV prevention option available to those who are at risk of infection. PrEP consists of a daily pill that must be taken as prescribed in order to provide maximum protection against the virus. When taken as prescribed, PrEP offers an incredible 99% protection against HIV.

PrEP2Me is an online service that allows patients in Pennsylvania to get PrEP prescriptions from a certified healthcare provider without ever having to leave their home. The process is simple:

  • Fill Out Our Online Form: You’ll enter your information into our easy, user-friendly online form.
  • Schedule Your Appointment: We’ll reach out to you about scheduling your first telePrEP appointment as soon as possible.
  • Send Your At-Home Test: We’ll send you the at-home lab kit you’ll need to screen for STIs before starting PrEP. 
  • Receive Medication In 3-5 Days: Your meds will be shipped to your door in discreet packaging within 3-5 business days!

By taking advantage of PrEP2Me’s online service, Pennsylvanians can protect themselves and their partners from HIV without having to leave the comfort of home.

Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

Sometimes, spontaneous things happen, and you may become exposed to HIV without protection. PEP, or Post Exposure Prophylaxis, is a type of medication that can be taken to prevent HIV infection if you have been exposed to the virus, such as after an unprotected sexual encounter.

If you believe you have been exposed to HIV, it's important to act quickly: PEP must be started within 72 hours of exposure in order to be effective.

If you're in need of PEP, reach out to Central Outreach Wellness Center. We'll provide you with the care and support you need to get the medication you need quickly.

Get PrEP Online in Pennsylvania

HIV is still an epidemic in Pennsylvania and across the nation, but with proper testing and prevention, it doesn't have to be.

By taking advantage of PrEP2Me’s online service, Pennsylvanians can protect themselves from HIV without having to leave home. Our process is simple, user-friendly, and comes with the virtual support of a real doctor who can answer all of your questions. To get started, just fill out our online form.

Concerned about the prescription drug coverage provided by your health insurance? Don't be. At PrEP2Me, we'll help you access PrEP regardless of health insurance plans, even if you have no insurance at all.

If you’re looking for compassionate, culturally competent, in-person health care providers in Western Pennsylvania, please don’t hesitate to visit us at Central Outreach Wellness Center.

At PrEP2Me, we make the prevention of HIV and AIDS simple and accessible to all!