Today's Medicine

Know Your Status. Stop HIV and AIDS

Knowledge is power

One in eight people don’t know their HIV status. It’s a staggering number that can be critical when it comes to stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS.

HIV and AIDS impact all walks of life. In 2016, there were 2,375 Nebraskans and 2,510 Iowans known to be living with HIV. In fact, last year Iowa experienced the largest number of people diagnosed with HIV since reporting began in 1998.

I see many patients diagnosed with HIV at my Methodist Physicians Clinic Infectious Disease Clinic at Regency.

Fight to overcome

Here in Nebraska, the Nebraska AIDS Project (NAP) leads the community in the fight to overcome HIV and AIDS. The organization provides education, supportive services and advocacy. As a former member of the NAP Board of Directors, I know just how tirelessly they work every day to help stop the spread of HIV, and advocate and provide support for those living with HIV. 

Still no cure

While much advancement has been made in the treatment of HIV and AIDS, there still is no cure. That’s why we recognize World AIDS Day on December 1st.

"Since the height of the epidemic in the mid-1980s, the number of people newly infected with HIV has reduced significantly – by more than two-thirds. And thanks to better treatments, the number of people living with HIV has increased dramatically." 

Dr. Rudolf Kotula
Methodist Physicians Clinic infectious disease specialist

How HIV is spread

A lot of that decline comes from education on how HIV is spread, and the precautions people have taken to stop it. You can get or transmit HIV only through specific activities – most cases are due to sexual behaviors and sharing needles or syringes.

Only certain body fluids from a person who has HIV can transmit HIV:

  • Blood
  • Semen 
  • Pre-seminal fluid
  • Rectal fluids
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Breast milk

These body fluids must come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into your bloodstream (by a needle or syringe) for transmission to occur. 

Testing is available

NAP urges everyone in our community to know their HIV status, especially those who have been sexually active and believe they may have been exposed to HIV to get tested. NAP provides free, confidential or anonymous HIV testing and counseling for anyone ages 13 and older. Test results are available the same day. 

HIV testing at NAP is quick and free. It includes a brief counseling session to discuss your sexual history and gives you a chance to ask questions privately. Testing can be done anonymously. 

Night of a Thousand Stars

In order to support its mission and critical services, including free HIV and AIDS tests, this Saturday, NAP will hold its largest fundraiser of the year, the Night of a Thousand Stars. Methodist Physicians Clinic is a proud sponsor of the annual event.

Learn more and purchase tickets to Night of a Thousand Stars.

If you have questions or concerns about HIV or AIDS, speak with your Methodist Physicians Clinic primary care provider or contact the Nebraska AIDS Project at 402-552-9260.

About the Author

Dr. Rudolf Kotula is a board-certified infectious disease physician. He specializes in areas such as antibiotic resistance, travel medicine and infection prevention.

You can visit Dr. Kotula at Methodist Physicians Clinic.

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