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Though there’s currently no cure for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), today’s advanced medications can protect you from getting the virus and keep the virus under control after it takes hold, giving you the ability to live a long, healthy life. At Ocala Infectious Disease and Wound Center, Haris Mirza, MD, specializes in the prevention and long-term treatment of HIV. If you live around The Villages, Citrus County, Lake County, and Sumter County and need comprehensive care for HIV, call the office in Ocala, Florida, or book an appointment online.
The virus spreads when HIV-infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids enter your body. Though most people get the virus during sexual contact, it also spreads during a transfusion with infected blood and when sharing needles.
A woman with HIV can pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy or delivery.
About 2-4 weeks after you’re exposed to the virus, flu-like symptoms develop. You may experience:
In some cases, these symptoms are so mild you may not realize you’re sick. After your symptoms improve, the virus goes into a dormant stage. If it becomes active again, it begins damaging immune cells.
That’s when you start to develop health problems such as frequent infections, an oral yeast infection, shingles, or pneumonia. With today’s medications, however, most patients with HIV never progress to AIDS.
You can prevent HIV by taking medications before you come into contact with the virus. Dr. Mirza recommends this type of treatment, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), to anyone who knows they may be exposed to HIV.
PrEP is 99% effective when you consistently take the medication as prescribed. If you take PrEP to protect yourself from exposure to HIV through injecting drugs, the medication lowers your risk of getting HIV by 74%.
Dr. Mirza may prescribe one of the two types of PrEP currently available. Truvada® is used for anyone who’s at risk for HIV, whether through sex or injecting drugs.
The second medicine, Descovy®, is only recommended for people who are at risk through sexual contact. However, its effectiveness hasn’t been verified for those who are at risk of getting HIV from vaginal sex.
Dr. Mirza also offers post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) as emergency treatment within 72 hours of exposure to HIV. Although PEP lowers your risk of becoming infected, it’s significantly less effective than PrEP.
Dr. Mirza treats HIV with antiretroviral therapy (ART), which consists of medications that reduce the viral load in your body and stop the virus from multiplying. Taking ART also lowers the risk of transmitting the virus to other people.
Most patients take a combination of three or more drugs. However, Dr. Mirza customizes your ART to best meet your needs.
To get expert care for HIV, call Ocala Infectious Disease and Wound Center or book an appointment online.