HIV- What You Need to Know


HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which is transmittable through contact with infected blood, semen, vaginal fluid, rectal fluid, and breast milk. HIV is a viral infection that targets and weakens the body’s immune system by damaging cells called CD4 T cells. By damaging these cells it makes it hard for your body to fight off infections, making mild infections possibly life-threatening. If HIV goes untreated, it can develop into AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 


PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and PEP stands for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. PrEP is a daily pill that HIV negative people can take to prevent contracting HIV. One of the main PrEP FDA approved medications is Descovy. Currently, Descovy is only approved for cisgender males and transgender females. PEP is a pill that people can use if they possibly could have been exposed to HIV. Truvada, which is FDA approved, is a medication that serves as PrEP and PEP by preventing HIV from reproducing and growing within the body. Truvada has proven to be the most effective PrEP and PEP medication is used correctly, to learn more about Descovy and Truvada, click here.

HIV Statistics in California:

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), there are over 150,000 Californians living with HIV. 68% of HIV positive individuals in California are virally suppressed (undetectable), which means that they are able to live a longer, healthier life and cannot transmit HIV during sex. About 12% of Californians are unaware that they are HIV positive, so getting tested on a regular basis is very important. Also, making sure that the individual(s) that you engage in sexual activity with is tested and treated is pertinent. For more information about HIV in California, click here.

HIV Among Youth and Young Adults

Of the 36,810 people diagnosed with HIV in 2019, 7,648 of those diagnoses were youth and young adults between the ages 13-24.  This is the second highest diagnosis rate.  Furthermore, approximately 56% of youth and young adults (ages 13-24) that had HIV knew their status.   These rates are implications that youth and young adults are being impacted by HIV at a concerning rate.  To learn more about HIV among youth and young adults, click here.

HIV Prevention: 

Some ways to prevent HIV are practicing abstinence, using condoms, taking PrEP, and using clean and unused injection needles. Practicing abstinence is the best way to prevent contracting HIV; however, properly using condoms during sex, (oral, anal, vaginal, etc.) is another great way to prevent contracting HIV. Properly using PrEP medication, such as Descovy and Truvada can prevent HIV contraction. Another effective way to prevent HIV is to not share needles. To learn more about HIV Prevention, click here.