While there’s still no cure for HIV, doctors say a new treatment is preventing the spread of the disease. Nearly 40,000 people are living with HIV in the United States. But thanks to a new medication, doctors say there’s good news for patients who have been diagnosed.
Dr. Pranav Shah, an infectious disease physician with Lee Health, says in an effort to prevent further HIV transmission doctors may also recommend a medication to patients who are HIV negative. “A lot of importance is now given to try and prevent HIV. Cure is still not possible. Vaccine is still under study. But preventing HIV is a very important task with CDC. Before it was trying to contain HIV for the HIV patients but now we are trying to see how we can prevent the transmission.”
A medication called PREP, which stands for pre exposure prophylaxis, is offered to patients who are HIV negative but have a partner who is HIV positive. The goal is to prevent the HIV negative person from becoming HIV positive. “Prevention is better than treatment. That’s why if we can prevent the cases, we can prevent the spread and then we can contain the epidemic,” said Dr. Shah.
Doctors say the medication combined with protection has been successful in protecting patients from HIV. “It’s a combination of two medications which you take one pill a day. It’s very important that they take it continuously. They cannot start and stop. If they do it religiously and do not miss doses, CDC says it can prevent 90 percent of cases of transmission,” said Dr. Shah.
Testing is also important, even during treatment. Patients at risk for HIV should be tested every three months. If a patient becomes HIV positive doctors can immediately get them started on medication.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.