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Netflix and…Itch? Know the signs.

Sexual health is important. But sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what to do or where to go to protect yourself. Don’t worry, we can help. We’ve put together a list of everything you need to know about getting regular HIV/STD tests.

HIV testing should be part of your routine preventative care. If you’re sexually active, you should be getting tested for HIV and STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) at least once a year.

According to the Center for Disease Control there are about 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections in the United States, every year. The CDC, recommends getting tested every three months if you are sexually active.

Factors such as age and your number of sexual partners play key roles in how often you should be getting tested. When doctors mention “risk factors” surrounding testing, it can sound scary. But these risk factors don’t imply judgement or irresponsible behavior. Doctors asses your “risk” of transmitting infections in a variety of ways, such as your age group, number of sexual partners, or even having a new sexual partner.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of what you think is an STD or HIV, don’t wait until your yearly screening to get tested. STD symptoms vary from pain or burning while peeing to itchy rashes and muscle aches. Symptoms of HIV are similarly wide-ranging and can present in some as flu-like symptoms while others might not experience symptoms at all. If you’re in doubt, go get tested, NovusACS offers free testing and treatment.


If you’re experiencing symptoms of what you think is an STD or HIV, don’t wait until your yearly screening to get tested. STD symptoms vary from pain or burning while peeing to itchy rashes and muscle aches. Symptoms of HIV are similarly wide-ranging and can present in some as flu-like symptoms while others might not experience symptoms at all. If you’re in doubt, go get tested, NovusACS offers free testing and treatment.

While many STDs are common and the first symptoms may be mild, the consequences of leaving them untreated can be serious. For example, after 10 to 20 years, Syphilis can cause organ damage, paralysis, dementia, and even death. So, ignoring symptoms or hoping they will resolve themselves is not a good idea, especially when syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea can all be completely cured with antibiotics which is available at NovusACS free of charge.

Not all STDs have obvious symptoms and some people may be asymptomatic, or not experience any symptoms at all. Even if you’re asymptomatic you can still pass an STD to your partner and left untreated, your STD could progress and get worse. That’s why regular screenings, coupled with intermittent tests if you’re experiencing symptoms, are so important.

No matter what, if you think you might’ve been exposed to HIV or an STD, get tested, NovusACS offers free testing & treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions even if they might be embarrassing. It’s better to have the conversation with a provider than to wonder and suffer in silence. The provider is there to help. If you’re looking to get tested quickly or on a budget, click here to find fast, free testing locations near you.

And remember, frequent testing should NEVER take the place of using condoms. Protection starts with being prepared. To learn more about STD/HIV testing and where you can score PrEP: HIV Prevention and tons of free condoms, click here.

Sex In The Time Of COVID: Gay Men Begin To Embrace A ‘New Normal’

Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a primary care physician in Los Angeles, has treated gay men for decades. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, he said, many patients have so dramatically changed their sexual behavior that they shrug off the need for routine screenings for sexually transmitted diseases.

“They say, ‘I haven’t had any contact since I saw you last, so there’s no need to do any STD tests,’” said Klausner, an adjunct professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases at UCLA.

But attitudes among these patients are shifting, Klausner has noticed, now that California and other states are loosening policies on social distancing. “People are starting to think about a return to engaging [in sex],” he said, “and are asking me, are there ways they can remain safe” from COVID-19?

Concerns about sexual intimacy during an epidemic are universal and not limited to gay men, of course. Public health experts, including those long involved in HIV prevention, recognize that a proportion of all people are likely to ignore or reject categorical mandates about sexual behavior — whether they involve using condoms or limiting contact because of social distancing norms.

“It didn’t work when we had to deal with HIV, and it won’t work in dealing with COVID,” said Pierre-Cédric Crouch, a clinical nurse researcher at the University of California-San Francisco, and an expert in HIV prevention.

The coronavirus is known to spread through oral and nasal secretions but not specifically through sexual intercourse. In New York City, the health department issued sex and coronavirus guidelines that counsel against sex with those outside your household but advise those who choose otherwise to “have as few partners as possible.”

The guidelines, which note that “kissing can easily pass the virus,” suggest that people “make it [sex] a little kinky” by being “creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact.” In the Netherlands, the government has advised single people considering sex to find a symptom-free sexual partner.

For many gay men, especially in urban areas, sexual exploration with multiple partners is a way of life, whether single or not. Many committed male couples maintain open relationships.

Research supports the notion that gay men tend to have more sexual partners than do heterosexuals. A 2012 review of surveys among adults ages 18 to 39 noted that men who have sex with men (a phrase often used in scientific studies that focus on sexual behavior rather than sexual identity) “reported significantly more lifetime partners than heterosexual men and women at all ages.” In the 35-39 age group, the median lifetime number of sexual partners reported by men who have sex with men was 67, compared with 10 for heterosexuals, according to the study.

Damon Jacobs, a therapist with many gay clients, lives alone in Brooklyn and remained celibate for the first month of the lockdown. At that point, he said, he reached out to a regular and trusted sexual partner.

Once-a-Month HIV Treatment Approved for Use in Canada

For virally-suppressed HIV-positive people, Cabenuva could replace a daily pill.

A once-a-month injectible HIV regimen has been approved for use in Canada, ViiV Healthcare announced in a statement last week.

Health Canada ⁠— the nation’s health department ⁠— green-lit Cabenuva, the brand name for the first monthly regimen for HIV-positive people who are virally stable and suppressed. The medication is administered via injection.

Along with Cabenuva, ViiV announced the approval of Vocabria ⁠— a daily pill to be taken with Cabenuva for a short time.

“With CABENUVA, people living with HIV who are virologically suppressed now have an option to maintain that suppression with 12 treatments a year thereby positively impacting their lives,” ViiV CEO Deborah Waterhouse said in a statement.

ViiV describes Cabenuva as “a kit with two injectable medicines — ViiV Healthcare’s cabotegravir and Janssen’s rilpivirine.”

How Well Do U=U and PrEP Work? The CDC Updates Its Answers

Content Courtesy of POZ.com

The federal agency tasked with protecting and promoting our country’s health wants you to know that U=U is 100% effective at preventing HIV transmission and that PrEP reduces the risk of acquiring the virus by 99% in men who have sex with men (MSM).

That’s according to updated data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on its website. Specifically, the numbers are found on a page titled “Effectiveness of Prevention Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Acquiring or Transmitting HIV,” which was updated July 18. The page also includes risk data on male condoms and male circumcision.

HIV – Printed Diagnosis with Blurred Text. On Background of Medicaments Composition – Red Pills, Injections and Syringe.

How does the PAC team view the CDC update? “We’re very happy with ‘100% effective,’” Murray Penner, PAC’s executive director of North America, told POZ. “People around the world look to the CDC for accurate assessments about HIV transmission risk. It’s important that the CDC’s messaging be clear, easy to understand and accurate. You can’t get better than 100% effective.”

PrEP, meanwhile, refers to pre-exposure prophylaxis, a way for HIV-negative people to lower their risk of acquiring the virus. To date, only one form of med has been approved as PrEP: the daily tablet Truvada. Other forms of PrEP are on the horizon.

The following passage from the CDC site regarding U=U applies to both heterosexual men and women and to MSM:

For persons who achieve and maintain viral suppression, there is effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative sexual partner. This translates to an effectiveness estimate of 100% for taking ART [antiretroviral therapy] regularly as prescribed and achieving and maintaining viral suppression. Effectiveness is lower, and there is a risk of transmitting HIV, when persons do not take ART as prescribed or stop taking ART, if viral suppression is not achieved, or if viral suppression is not maintained.

Regarding PrEP and MSM, the CDC writes:

When taking PrEP daily or consistently (at least 4 times per week), the risk of acquiring HIV is reduced by about 99% among MSM. While daily use is recommended in the U.S., taking PrEP consistently (at least 4 times per week) appears to provide similar levels of protection among MSM.  The effectiveness of oral PrEP is highly dependent on PrEP adherence. When taking oral PrEP daily or consistently, HIV acquisition is extremely rare and has not been observed in any of the studies described below. In clinical practice, a few cases of new HIV infections have been confirmed while HIV-negative individuals were on PrEP with verified adherence.

Regarding PrEP and heterosexual men and women, the CDC writes:

There is evidence for the effectiveness of PrEP when used recently (based on detecting TFV [tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, one of the drugs in Truvada] in plasma), which is estimated to be 88–90% as described below. There is no effectiveness estimate of PrEP when taken daily or consistently among heterosexuals; however, it is likely to be greater than the estimates corresponding to recent use and similar to what has been observed for MSM. The effectiveness of oral daily PrEP is highly dependent on PrEP adherence, with maximum effectiveness when taking PrEP daily and lower effectiveness when not taken consistently.

Regarding PrEP and people who inject drugs (PWID), the CDC writes:

PWID face HIV risks from both injecting and sex behaviors. Studies on the effectiveness of PrEP when taken daily among PWID are limited. However, when taking PrEP consistently, the risk of acquiring HIV is reduced by an estimated 74–84% among PWID. These estimates are based on tenofovir alone and among a subset of PWID taking PrEP consistently, as verified by directly observed therapy or daily diary plus monthly pill count. The effectiveness of two-drug oral therapy has not been assessed among PWID but may be higher. The effectiveness of oral daily PrEP is highly dependent on PrEP adherence, with maximum effectiveness when taking PrEP daily and lower effectiveness when missing doses.

Content Source: https://www.poz.com/article/uu-prep-work-cdc-updates-answers#lid=d5ab18bd98.6d2e545b42

NovusACS specialize in HIV & Hepatitis C Treatment & Care, PrEP: HIV Prevention, and FREE STD/HIV/HepC Testing. Find a location near you. CLICK HERE

Havoc Into Victory: My HIV Story

Wanona Thomas
East Point, Georgia
Positive since 2016

On November 28, 2016, I received a phone call that would alter my life forever. I had recently consented to an HIV test and also to have the chromosomes of my unborn child checked. I was almost five months pregnant. In my heart, I instinctively knew my child was fine. However, I didn’t feel the same with regard to my own fate.

I was asked to come in as soon as possible to discuss my lab results. I begged the nurse to give me the results over the phone. She let me know that I needed to come in for an appointment. My heart dropped.

I arrived at the clinic with my two youngest children. As I sat in the waiting area, everything seemed to move in slow motion. A barrage of thoughts swirled through my head. My nerves were all over the place. Finally, I heard my name called, and I immediately snapped back into reality. The walk down the hallway to the office felt as though I was walking to the electric chair. The nurse walked in and said, “Ms. Thomas, I’m not going to beat around the bush. Your HIV test came back positive.”

In that moment, my heart dropped again. I felt numb all over. Her words were final. There was no going back. I remember thinking, I have to be anywhere but here—if only I could rewind the hands of time. I recall the feeling of sheer shock move to pure rage and anger. I began screaming, “This is not real. I’m going to kill him.”

A caseworker immediately rushed to comfort and calm me, while another nurse removed my children from the room. I could faintly hear the wails and screams of my children crying for their mommy. I knew right then that I must gather myself for their sake.

The nurse asked me if I’d like to call my children’s father. I nodded yes. After what in my mind felt like eternity, I heard his voice. With tears in my eyes, I charged in with, “Why, why, why, would you do this to me?” He wanted to know what I was referring to. I screamed into the phone, “I’m HIV positive, damn it! Why?”

I was met with silence on the other end. An answer wasn’t going to come. I started ranting again that I was going to kill him. One of the caseworkers on staff asked to speak to him. As I handed her the phone, I was filled with many emotions: betrayal, loneliness, loss, confusion and anger, and I felt damaged.

I needed the comfort of my babies. I reassured the staff that I would behave. My children needed me. They had to be my focus now. I had to do everything I could to ensure that I would be the parent to raise them.

I was scared. I was scared of what others would think about me, how they would feel about me. I felt ashamed and unworthy. Nevertheless, I knew I had to shift my focus because my three babies needed me and my unborn child needed me. I couldn’t allow them to see me torn and broken. I had to be strong. Right then, I knew my life would be different. I began to feel a spirit of peace overtake me.

The next day, I began [antiretroviral] treatment. In the beginning of January 2017, I developed pneumonia and was hospitalized. Through God’s grace, I fought it off and was able to leave the hospital. As my due date drew near, my viral load and CD4 numbers began to improve. On April 10, I delivered a beautiful healthy HIV-negative son. Shortly after he was born, my baby developed acidic blood. He had lost a lot of essential minerals and electrolytes after completing his six-week regimen of AZT. As time passed, my son began to get better and stronger. Watching him fight encouraged me to fight just as hard.

Slowly but surely, I began to put my life back together. I had to release the poison that had built within the walls of my heart. Bitterness was eating me up inside. I had to release the new me. I knew I had to live in my truth: This is my life and I’m taking charge. I won’t allow this to overtake me.

I wanted to make sure I could help others, so I created the Live In Your Truth foundation. Today, I am focused on building my foundation so I can pass it on to my children one day and they can proudly call it their own. I truly believe my children will be greatly impacted from having parents who are HIV positive. I want my children to be proud of me. I want them to understand that they can be whatever they desire in life. I want my children to have a solid foundation to stand on and be able to extend the love they were raised on to others. It is my hope that they live in their truth and that it helps make life a little easier.

This thing called HIV may win the battle with my human flesh one day, but with my love, spirit and legacy, we will win the war! I have turned my Havoc Into a Victory (HIV)! This is what HIV means to me! Live in your truth (LIYT)!

Content Source: https://www.poz.com/article/wanona-thomas

Do I have an STD? The most common STD symptom is no symptom at all.

Should You Get Tested For STDs?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections or STIs, are very common. Millions of new infections occur every year in the United States.

STDs are passed from one person to another through sexual activity including vaginal, oral, and anal sex. They can also be passed from one person to another through intimate physical contact, such as heavy petting, though this is not very common.

STDs don’t always cause symptoms or may only cause mild symptoms, so it is possible to have an infection and not know it. That is why it is important to get tested if you are having sex. If you are diagnosed with an STD, know that all can be treated with medicine and some can be cured entirely.

STDs are preventable. If you have sex, know how to protect yourself and your sexual partner from STDs.

Click on title for more information on each disease, condition, and infection.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Any woman can get bacterial vaginosis. Having bacterial vaginosis can increase your chance of getting an STD.


Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can be easily cured. If left untreated, chlamydia can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.


Anyone who is sexually active can get gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can cause very serious complications when not treated, but can be cured with the right medication.


Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation.


Genital herpes is a common STD, and most people with genital herpes infection do not know they have it.


People who have STDs are more likely to get HIV, when compared to people who do not have STDs.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Some health effects caused by HPV can be prevented with vaccines. Talk to your primary healthcare provider about vaccines.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) can lead to serious consequences including infertility.

STDs & Infertility

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are preventable causes of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility.

STDs during Pregnancy

For a healthier baby, ask your doctor about STD testing or stop by NovusACS for Free testing.


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can have very serious complications when left untreated, but it is simple to cure with the right treatment.


Most people who have trichomoniasis do not have any symptoms.

Other STDs

Chancroid, scabies, and more.

At NovusACS, we offer free and confidential STI/HIV testing. Know For Sure, Get Tested Today! Schedule an appointment at any of our locations.

Content Source: Division of STD Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention