Courtesy of Whitman-Walker Health
Courtesy of Whitman-Walker Health

HIV is a manageable chronic disease and is more preventable than ever before! From getting tested and knowing your status, to preventative options like PrEP and PEP, here are a few options to consider adding to your HIV prevention toolkit!

Get Tested. Getting tested for HIV and STIs is the first step in anyone’s HIV prevention journey. Depending on a person’s sexual health practices and activity, getting tested every 3-6 months can go a long way in preventing HIV and STIs. Untreated STIs make it easier to become positive after an exposure to HIV, so it is important to get tested.

Learn about Whitman-Walker Health’s testing hours and locations at whitman-walker.org/testing. Walk-in HIV and STI testing is available at the below locations, but be sure to check our website for the most up-to-date hours!

• Max Robinson Center, 2301 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE
Whitman-Walker at 1525 14th Street NW
Whitman-Walker Youth Services, 651 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
If you receive a negative HIV test result, ask about PrEP. PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a daily pill that can prevent HIV. According to the CDC, when taken every day, this pill can prevent a person’s chance of HIV infection that is transmitted through sex by about 99%. Learn more at PrEPforDC.com! Contact Whitman-Walker’s PrEP team at 202.939.7690 or prepclinic@whitman-walker.org.

PrEP may be a good HIV prevention tool for you if you:

• Have been diagnosed with an STI in the last 6 months.
Are sexually active and don’t always use external or insertive condoms.
• Are unsure of your sex partner’s HIV status.
Are HIV-negative and are sexually active, or have a sex partner who is living with HIV.
Identify as someone who injects drugs or are having sex with partner(s) who inject drugs.
If you are HIV-negative and think you have been exposed to HIV, ask for PEP. PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, is a 28-day course of medication that can prevent HIV after a possible exposure. PEP must be taken within 72 hours of an HIV exposure to be effective. PEP is for emergency use and is available at Whitman-Walker. To access PEP with Whitman-Walker, call our PEP line at 202.797.4439 or walk into our Logan Circle or Anacostia health centers. PEP is also available at all emergency rooms. Whether exposed to HIV through consensual or non-consensual sex, or sharing needles and works, it is important to seek PEP within 72 hours of exposure to HIV for it to be effective.
If you receive a positive HIV test result or are living with HIV, seek treatment. Talk with your medical provider about your treatment options. When a person is living with HIV, they can manage their HIV by taking their HIV treatment as prescribed. By being on treatment, you can help prevent new HIV infections. This is known as “Treatment as Prevention.”

People living with HIV who take their treatment as prescribed can achieve an undetectable viral load. An undetectable viral load means there is effectively no risk of a person transmitting HIV sexually. This is known as “U Equals U” or Undetectable = Untransmittable. Missing just a few days of treatment could mean regaining a detectable viral load, so it is important to take your treatment as prescribed.

Start treatment. To start treatment, walk into either of Whitman-Walker’s Logan Circle or Anacostia health centers and say “Red Carpet” to the client services representative. You can also call us at 202.745.7000 or email us at appointments@whitman-walker.org to schedule an appointment. Just mention “Red Carpet” and our team can help you start treatment for HIV.

If your community or organization is interested in the Whitman-Walker providing mobile health services in your neighborhood, contact mobilehealth@whitman-walker.org or 202-487-0067. Access PrEP, PEP or start treatment for HIV with Whitman-Walker Health at Max Robinson Center, 2301 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE or Whitman-Walker at 1525 14th Street NW.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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2 Comments

  1. The best part of your blog is when you suggested asking for pre-exposure prophylaxis if you are HIV-negative but are sexually active. I will surely share this with my best friend since she has the tendency to change sex partners every now and then, and I want her to be protected from HIV. She also mentioned the other day over a 10-minute phone call that she was unsure of her current partner’s HIV status.

  2. Thanks for this guide to HIV prevention. I appreciate that you mentioned that it’s important to get tested regularly. I think it would help everyone to know more about HIV and how to prevent it.

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