Safe, protected sex can help prevent the spread of HIV, right? But did you know Planned Parenthood South Atlantic (PPSAT) has been offering a highly effective, FDA-approved strategy in the fight since 2016?
PPSAT is one of a number of places in Charlotte to offer PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), available to people at high risk of contracting HIV. The protocol involves taking a single pill daily which interferes with HIV’s ability to copy itself in the body after exposure has occurred.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent. Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70 percent.
The southern U.S. is still disproportionately impacted by the spread of HIV and the stigma associated with the disease. Forty-nine percent of all HIV diagnoses occur in the South, with Mecklenburg County having the largest number of HIV cases and new diagnoses in North Carolina.
People living with HIV deserve to know the most medically accurate information about their bodies. The idea that people living with HIV are dangerous or undesirable has a profound emotional impact, fuels HIV stigma and discourages testing and treatment. Informing patients, providers and the communities we serve about the advances in HIV science can shift deeply ingrained fear of HIV and the established dogma about how to prevent it.
The CDC says one in five new HIV infections occur in people younger than 25.
“Patients are often unaware that PrEP and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) are available,” says PPSAT clinician Stephanie Limesand says. “We do educate patients who are at high risk about these services and some choose to start taking the medication.”
PEP refers to antiretroviral medicines people can take after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent becoming infected. PEP should be used in emergency situations only and must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.
Everyone deserves a sex life that is healthy, happy and free from shame and stigma. As Planned Parenthood continues to broaden its comprehensive HIV prevention efforts, Charlotte residents can rely on Planned Parenthood for non-judgmental care, quality education and accurate information. Planned Parenthood is committed to serving communities most at risk for the dual epidemics of HIV and HIV stigma, including Black and Latina women, transgender women of color, young adults and Black and Latino gay and bisexual men.
For PPSAT, education and awareness are key. The organization is changing the dialogue about HIV across the Charlotte area. The Charlotte health center serves more than 4,000 women, men and teens annually, offering a range of services from basic gynecological and breast exams to family planning and testing/treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
More About Planned Parenthood
For a century, Planned Parenthood has been one of the nation’s leading providers of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men and young people, and the nation’s largest provider of sex education. Planned Parenthood health centers provide contraception, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and lifesaving cancer screenings to millions of people in the U.S. With a presence in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., Planned Parenthood has 56 affiliates, which operate more than 600 health centers. Globally, Planned Parenthood supports local partners in 12 focus countries, reaching over 1.5 million individuals with reproductive health information and services. Women, men and young people from every community and income level view Planned Parenthood as their first-choice provider of care. For more information, visit plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-south-atlantic.