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General HIV FAQs

PrEP2Me is powered by Central Outreach Wellness Center in Pittsburgh, PA, which specializes in HIV treatment as well as preventative care. The doctor behind Central Outreach, Stacy Lane, D.O., has spent her entire career specializing in HIV care. Central Outreach is leading the field in HIV Prevention by removing obstacles to HIV and STI tests, providing HIV Prevention Counseling, and offering zero-copay PrEP as a preventative HIV medication. 

HIV has had devastating effects on the gay and trans communities, but there are proven and effective strategies to both maintain your health after HIV infection and to prevent it altogether. Below are some of the most frequently-asked questions we receive from our patients. 

If you’re ready to start PrEP with PrEP2Me, start filling out our easy, user-friendly form now!

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Frequently Asked Questions About HIV:

What is HIV?

HIV is the abbreviation for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, a virus that directly attacks the body’s immune system.

What’s the connection between HIV and AIDS?

If HIV is left untreated, it can eventually lead to a more severe condition known as AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Once HIV has entered the body, the virus proceeds in the following stages:

  • Acute HIV Infection. During this stage, patients have high amounts of HIV in their blood and are highly contagious. It’s common to feel flu-like symptoms, but some people feel no symptoms at all.
  • Chronic HIV Infection. In this stage, HIV is still active in your body and transmittable to others, but has slowed its reproduction process. Because many patients show no symptoms during this stage, it’s also known as “asymptomatic HIV infection.” This is the stage in which your viral load (a term for the amount of HIV in your blood) increases, and your CD4 cell (a type of white blood cell that defends the immune system) count goes down. 
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Once the viral load has gone up and the CD4 cell count has gone down to a certain extent, patients will develop AIDS, during which the immune system becomes severely damaged. This leads to an increasing number of severe illnesses, known as “opportunistic infections.” Outcomes for patients with AIDS can improve with treatment, but can quickly become fatal without it.

What are the most common symptoms of HIV?

Many people have symptoms within 2-4 weeks after being infected with HIV, during the acute infection stage mentioned above. These symptoms often mimic the flu and can last a varied amount of time, from several days to several weeks. Common symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Aching
  • Fatigue
  • Rash

It’s important to note that these symptoms are not necessarily an indicator of HIV. Likewise, you may be infected with HIV after exposure while showing no symptoms at all.

How can I protect myself from HIV?

The best way to protect yourself against HIV is by taking PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) on a daily basis. PrEP works to prevent HIV infections in your body even after exposure, and when taken every day, can reduce your risk of HIV infection by 99%.

How do I know if I’m HIV positive?

The only way to be certain whether or not you have HIV is to get tested. If you’re unsure of your HIV status and feel you may be at risk, get tested as soon as you can -- being aware of your status is the first step toward making healthy choices regarding HIV transmission and protection.

I’ve tested positive for HIV. What happens now?

If you’ve tested positive for HIV, don’t panic or be afraid. While there is no cure for HIV, there are plenty of accessible options for lifelong management that can keep you healthy and effectively protect both you and your partners.

Can I start HIV prevention if I’m under 18?

PrEP2Me does not serve patients under 18. However, if you are a minor and find yourself at risk for HIV infection, call Central Outreach Wellness Center directly at (412) 322-4151, where a physician can discuss your options with you.

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