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There are many ways to prevent HIV
There are many options to prevent HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and you can choose the one that best fits your life.
Using condoms for sex is still an option and there is also prescription medicine to prevent HIV, called PrEP.
Other ways to prevent HIV are using new sterile needles for injection or if you or your partner is living with HIV, getting on and staying on HIV treatment. This will help you or your partner become undetectable (maintain an undetectable viral load) and this means you cannot transmit HIV through sex. An easy way to remember this is U=U or Undetectable = Untransmittable.
It all starts with getting tested for HIV.
Testing is the only way to know for sure if you are living with HIV. Everyone should get tested at least once in their life. If you are diagnosed with HIV, we can help get you linked to medical care.
Just like there are many options for preventing HIV, there are also different options for getting tested for HIV. If you have a primary health care provider, you can ask them to test you for HIV. There are also community locations where you can get a low or no-cost HIV test. Another option is to test yourself in the privacy of your home. You can have an HIV self-test mailed to you by calling our partners at the Public Health Sexual Health Clinic (608) 243-0411.
HIV prevention services
PrEP, PEP and PrEP navigation
At UW Health, we also work to help prevent HIV.
This includes providing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PrEP is when someone at high risk for HIV takes daily medicines to lower their chances of acquiring HIV. PEP is when a person who may have recently been exposed to HIV takes medicines to lower their chances of acquiring HIV.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is an HIV-prevention pill or injection that can significantly lower your chances of acquiring HIV.
PrEP is 99% effective at reducing the risk of getting HIV from sex and 70% effective at reducing the risk of getting HIV from sharing needles. And if you’re taking gender affirming hormones, PrEP won’t weaken them.
Post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, can be taken after being exposed to HIV. PEP is only for emergency situations and needs to be started within 72 hours of being exposed to HIV. The sooner you start PEP, the better. You take PEP medicines for 28 days to lower your chances of acquiring HIV. If you are at high risk for HIV, you should consider taking daily PrEP to prevent HIV.
PrEP navigation is a free, no-obligation service for you to learn more about PrEP. With this service, our PrEP navigator can help you get PrEP, help with insurance questions, affordability, transportation, referrals to other services and more. Our PrEP navigator gives you support and helps you find the services that can help reduce your risk of acquiring HIV.
We provide PrEP navigation services by phone and in person at many UW Health sites. Our PrEP navigator also works in the community.
U=U: Undetectable = Untransmittable
U=U is the slogan for a movement launched by the Prevention Access Campaign. In 2016, a group of people living with HIV (PLWH) created a Consensus Statement about the risk of sexual transmission of HIV from a PLWH who has an undetectable HIV viral load. This statement explained the scientific evidence showing people on effective antiretroviral (ART) will reduce the level of HIV to "undetectable" levels, which protects their health and makes them incapable of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners, or what we call "Undetectable = Untransmittable," or U=U for short.
In addition to the consensus statement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Dear Colleague letter stating that "across three different studies, including thousands of couples and many thousand acts of sex without a condom or pre-exposure (PrEP), no HIV transmissions to an HIV-negative partner were observed when the HIV-positive person was virally suppressed. This means that people who take ART daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner."
The movement and U=U slogan can be empowering information for PLWH. The U=U message may help to reduce the shame and fear many PLWH (people living with HIV/AIDS) have around sexual transmission of HIV. The message also promotes the fact that people can live a long and healthy life with HIV, which may be useful in dismantling stigma around HIV.
More information on U=U:
Prevention Access Campaign – Information and resources on U=U, including the consensus statement endorsed by numerous organizations worldwide.
10 Things to Know About HIV Suppression – Videos, FAQs and other resources on sexual transmission of HIV and what it means to be "durably undetectable." From the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID).
HIV testing and services locator
Try the locator
Search for testing sites and services that you need. This online tool from HIV.gov lets you search for testing services, housing providers, health centers and other services near you.
Meet our team
Working together to prevent HIV
Your HIV prevention team understand the ins and outs of HIV prevention and will work with you on a plan to keep your HIV risk low.
Our clinic’s PrEP team includes a nurse, a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, a pharmacist, and a PrEP navigator.
You can also get PrEP at other UW Health locations
Our team is ready for you
At UW Health, we want you to receive the right care at the right time. We are here if you want to talk or need information. You can call us at (608) 263-0946.
How to find us
The HIV Care and Prevention Program is part of the UW Health Infectious Disease Clinic.
The UW Health Infectious Disease Clinic is part of the Medical Specialty Clinic on the main floor (Floor 2) of University Hospital, along with Pulmonary and Travel Medicine.
To find these clinics:
Please enter the Hospital Entrance (revolving doors on the left as you come out of the parking ramp)
Veer left past the Gift Shop and stop at registration
From there, continue past the B Module toward Medical Specialty and check in with reception