Pharmacy Residency (PGY1)

Help stop the virus

Begin with education created for you. The HIV Services Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) helped develop the training. The CAB advocate for patients, because the CAB are patients too. Please consider the advice in The Basics videos from the CAB.

Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV can spread when a person does not take medicine and HIV is detected in blood tests. HIV can be passed on to another person when blood, semen, vaginal or rectal secretions meet damaged tissue. HIV can be passed on through the lining found inside the rectum, the vagina, the opening of the penis, or the mouth. Women living with HIV should not breastfeed. Women who are pregnant may pass HIV to their unborn children unless they seek treatment. HIV treatments work. Ask your primary care provider for more information.

Protect yourself and protect your health. Learn about HIV.
HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, lives in the cells of your immune system. Your immune system helps keep you from getting sick. HIV takes over these cells and uses them to make more HIV.

When HIV moves into your immune system, your immune system does not work as well. This means you can get sick more often. That you can have trouble healing from sickness. If HIV is not treated with medicine, you can get sick with AIDs. Luckily, people who take medicine for HIV can live a long healthy life and not get AIDS.

AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. When you take your HIV medicine daily you will not get AIDS. AIDS only happens when the immune system is weak. People with AIDS get serious infections and are very sick.

The viral load.
A viral load refers to how much HIV is in the blood. Taking your medicine every day will help keep your viral load low. You will have regular lab appointments to measure your viral load. If your viral load is low, your medicines are working. If your viral load is high, your medicine is not working. Your provider might change your HIV medicine. There are many kinds of HIV medicine. Your healthcare team will find the right medicine for you.

Not taking your medicines may increase your viral load. You could pass HIV to others if you do not take medicines. Decide with your provider what you should take. Then stick to the plan prescribed. Not taking your medicines the right way can make the HIV virus resistant. Resistance means your HIV medicines do not work well anymore. Your immune system may weaken, and you might get infections or other problems. Ask for more information.

Know that treatment works.
Focus on reliable sources of information. Look for stories about real people from across the United States talking about how sticking with treatment helps them stay healthy. Stories on how they protect others and still do what they love.

Set a goal to become undetectable.
Undetectable = Untransmittable, or U=U

An undetectable viral load is achieved by taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed. ART is the HIV medication you take every day.

People living with HIV who are U=U are not “cured,” but there is little virus in their system. Such a small amount of virus means that sometimes modern testing can no longer find HIV in the blood. Viral loads below 200 means HIV is untransmittable.
  • When HIV is not detected in laboratory tests the person is undetectable.
  • Once undetectable, the virus cannot be transmitted to a sex partner or drug-using partner.
People stay undetectable when:
  • They keep taking ART.
  • Get labs drawn often to measure the virus.
  • Keep their medical appointments.
  • Discuss goals with primary care provider.
Stay away from used needles, syringes and drug straws.
You are important. Your body and your mind. Using drugs and ignoring your emotions can make living with HIV harder. The support you need is available – ask when you are ready.

If you shoot up, learn how to do it safely.
  • If you are sharing needles and syringes you can get very sick.
  • Ask about needle safety. No judgment. Just information you can use to keep you safe and healthy.
  • When you are ready, ask about drug programs.