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HIV/AIDS Resources: About

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Viral Load and Becoming Undetectable

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection. People on ART take a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV treatment regimen) every day. ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV. ART prevents HIV from multiplying, which reduces the amount of HIV in the body (called the viral load). Having less HIV in the body protects the immune system and prevents HIV infection from advancing to AIDS. ART can’t cure HIV, but HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives.

ART also reduces the risk of HIV transmission. A main goal of ART is to reduce a person’s viral load to an undetectable level. An undetectable viral load means that the level of HIV in the blood is too low to be detected by a viral load test. People with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partner through sex. (Continue Reading from NIH AIDSinfo)

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

PrEP is a prevention method used by people who are HIV-negative and at high risk for being exposed to HIV through sexual contact or injection drug use. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from establishing an infection. 

PEP refers to the use of antiretroviral drugs for people who are HIV-negative after a single high-risk exposure to stop HIV infection. PEP must be started as soon as possible to be effective – always within 72 hours of a possible exposure – and continued for 4 weeks. (Continue Reading from the CDC)

Standing Up to the Stigma

HIV stigma refers to irrational or negative attitudes, behaviors, and judgments towards people living with or at risk of HIV. It can negatively affect the health and well-being of people living with HIV by discouraging some individuals from learning their HIV status, accessing treatment, or staying in care. HIV stigma can also affect those at risk of HIV by discouraging them from seeking HIV prevention tools and testing, and from talking openly with their sex partners about safer sex options.

Populations disproportionately affected by HIV are also often affected by stigma due to, among other things, their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race/ethnicity, drug use, or sex work. HIV stigma drives acts of discrimination in all sectors of society, including health care, education, the work place, the justice system, families, and communities. Breaking down HIV stigma is a critical part of ending the HIV epidemic. (Continue Reading from HIV.gov)

Learn More

HIV Self-Testing (Home-Testing) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

PrEP 101 from Planned Parenthood of Southern New England

HIV/AIDS Resources from NIH on Drug Abuse

HIV/AIDS from Our World In Data

HIV and AIDS from US Office on Women's Health

HIV/AIDS from World Health Organization

HIV in Communities of Color from HIV.org

HIV/AIDS Research from MedlinePlus

HIV Stigma and Discrimination from Avert

HIV/AIDS Overview from Mayo Clinic

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