HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). HIV is spread mainly by having sex or sharing injection drug equipment, such as needles, with someone who has HIV. Only certain fluids—blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk—from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV.
WHAT IS HIV?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is when people at risk for HIV take daily medicine to lower their chances of getting HIV. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. When taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV from sex or injection drug use.
Two medications, sold under the brand names Truvada® and Descovy® are approved for daily use as PrEP to help prevent a person without HIV from getting the virus from sex or injection drug use. Studies have shown that PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV if it is used as prescribed. PrEP is much less effective when it is not taken consistently.
Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken daily.
At HealthQ, providing answers such as PrEP to Lawrence and the surrounding Massachusetts area is something we take pride in. We can assess your HIV status (you must be HIV-negative before and while taking PrEP) and risk factors to help you decide whether this option may be right for you.
IS PREP RIGHT FOR ME?
PrEP is for people without HIV who are at risk of getting the virus from sex or injection drug use. You may be at risk for getting HIV if you don’t always use condoms, currently have or had a sexually transmitted infection, have a sexual partner(s) who don’t know their HIV status, or use injection drugs. To learn more about whether PrEP is right for you, schedule an in-clinic or telehealth visit to talk to one of our medical providers
Should I Get Tested For HIV?
Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once.
If you have higher risk factors for getting HIV—people with more than one sexual partner, people who have recently had an STI, and people who use injection drugs, we recommend getting retested at least once a year and maybe more
If you have had anal or vaginal sex without a condom, shared injection drug equipment with someone who has HIV or are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, we recommend that you get retested.
Retesting is important because of the “window period” or the length of time between your exposure to HIV and when HIV would show up on a test. This can take up to 6-8 weeks. If your test result is negative, protect yourself and get retested after three months.
SAME DAY TESTING & TEST RESULTS
At HealthQ, we offer rapid HIV testing (fingerstick, with results in minutes) which can detect HIV 6-8 weeks after unprotected sex, and lab testing which can detect HIV 2 weeks after unprotected sex (results take a week). Both tests are 99% accurate.
Once you get your test results, and if you do have HIV, there are resources and medicines to help you live a long and healthy life. We will refer you to a specialist. If you do not have HIV, you can use condoms, practice safer sex to help protect yourself, talk to your partners about their test results, never share needles, and get retested regularly. Talk to us about your risk factors, testing, and all the ways you can stay healthy no matter what your status.
Our mission is to provide exceptional reproductive and sexual health care to all who need it without judgment and without barriers. We operate with an uncompromising belief that everyone has the right to control their body and control their life.
We are a non-profit organization governed by members of the communities who make up our volunteer Board of Directors. We have a 25-member team of board-certified physicians and nurse practitioners, medical assistants, patient care coordinators, and administrative staff. Everyone from the Board down joined because they are dedicated to the vision, mission, and values. Together, we are making sure that sexual and reproductive health care is accessible to our families, friends, and neighbors.
”WHAT PATIENTS SAY
”Every staff I came across in this office were kind, polite and professional. Great experience overall. Every medical office should be like this one, they hear you out and help. - R.V.
”I went to this clinic multiple times back in December and cannot say enough good things about the staff. I have never felt more respected, heard and cared for in a medical setting. The level of communication was above and beyond so that I never felt confused or the medical decisions out of my hands - my opinion about my body mattered. They patiently listened to all my questions and answered in ways to make sure I actually understood. We connected on a personal level - rather than the superiority/aloofness some medical professionals have - which really makes all the difference. Highly recommend. Thank you for all that you do! - C.S.
”Extremely safe, private, and a professional experience for such a sensitive time in one's life. - S.S.
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