The Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority partners with Positive Impact Health Centers to increase awareness around the prevention and treatment of HIV. Positive Impact Health Centers provides client-centered care to people in the community living with HIV. The agency provides HIV specialty care and support services, behavioral health including substance abuse treatment, HIV testing, and prevention services through two Atlanta-area locations in the cities of Duluth and Decatur.
At Positive Impact Health Centers, Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a prevention strategy using antiretroviral medication that is being used to prevent HIV infection. The medication is a once-daily oral pill that blocks the entry of HIV into the body’s cells. It has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92 percent.
Positive Impact Health Centers has been expanding its prevention programming into the gay community. One of the agency’s new initiatives has been opening two FREE PrEP Clinics in both centers in Duluth and Decatur.
Treatment as prevention has also been shown to significantly reduce HIV transmission rates. Getting HIV-positive individuals into treatment and to viral suppression is critical to ending the epidemic. People living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV to others. HIV medications are now an effective prevention tool.
Before PrEP and treatment as prevention is HIV testing. Expanded community testing is needed to get high-risk individuals testing negative on PrEP and get those testing positive into treatment. The most important factor in eradicating HIV is getting people aware of their HIV status.
At Positive Impact Health Centers, we offer free and confidential HIV testing at our two centers in Duluth and Decatur. Testing hours can be found on the agency website at www.positiveimpacthealthcenters.org.
For sexually active people, the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all persons ages 13 to 65 are tested for HIV so they know their status. How often a person should be tested depends on their behaviors. Prevention specialists who perform HIV tests will assist people with understanding how often they should be tested and help them develop a plan to reduce the likelihood that they become infected with HIV.
At Positive Impact Health Centers, we know that some behavior change will make a difference in exposure to HIV. Everyone is different, and HIV prevention plans are individualized for each person. Each person has to decide what they want to do and what HIV prevention steps best fit into their lifestyle.
-Written by Kyle Monroe-Spencer, director of HIV prevention, and Olivia Chelko, vice president of development and communications, at Positive Impact Health Centers.