We Are Living Healthy

Understanding and Preventing HIV

February 10, 2022 Alexis Perkins Season 1 Episode 42
We Are Living Healthy
Understanding and Preventing HIV
Show Notes Transcript

City of Virginia Beach Behavioral Health Wellness and Prevention Services HIV-Program
with Robert Hewitt, Human Service Educator

World AIDS Day was recognized in 1988 as the first-ever global health day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has since been observed each year on Dec. 1. Since the first case of AIDS was reported in the United States in 1981, more than 700,000 people have died in the U.S. from HIV-related illness.

Passionate about teaching  communities about the existence of HIV, Robert Hewitt is here to walk us through some of the important things you need to know.

-What is HIV?
-What is the main difference between HIV and AIDS? 
-What symptoms are we looking for in a patient? 
-What areas can we check for HIV?
-What activities transmit HIV?
-How can we get tested for HIV?

Free HIV testing is available at no cost to Virginia Beach residents through DHS Wellness and Prevention Services at any time throughout the year. Screenings are available by appointment between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday at 258 N. Witchduck Road, Suite 2D.

Please call Robert Hewitt at 757-385-0811 to schedule an appointment.
Website: www.vbgov.com

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Alexis: Hello. And thank you for tuning in to this segment of we are living healthy. December 1st was world aids day. So we want to make sure that we chat about it. And I'm really excited about our guest. We have human services educator, Robert Hewitt. Can we go ahead and welcome into the show? Hello, Robert. 

Robert: Hello, how are you this 

Alexis: morning?

I'm doing absolutely wonderful. How are 

Robert: you? I'm doing just ducky. Quiet, 

Alexis: quiet. I love it. I know that we're going to be talking about HIV and I know that you're with the [00:01:00] city of Virginia Beach behavioral health program. Could you tell us a little bit about what. 

Robert: Yes, I am a human services educator and my primary role in prevention services is to educate the public about HIV in a form of education and provide services for testing.

Alexis: Okay. And what is HIV? 

Robert: HIV is a, is an acronym. It stands for human immunodeficiency virus is the initial stage of the infection basically. 

Alexis: Yes. And what is the main difference between HIV and aids? Cause I know sometimes when people talk about it, they kind of use the words interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference.

Yes, there is a 

Robert: distinct difference. And the initial difference is when a person has CDC defined aids, which is their T-cell count is 200 or less as defined by CDC and prevention, they are considered to have full blown aids. That's when they're more susceptible to some of the illnesses and [00:02:00] diseases.

Alexis: Okay. And how does HIV presented itself and what symptoms does it have? So somebody was like, what am I looking for? What does it look like? 

Robert: Well, it can present itself. Sometimes HIV doesn't have any symptoms at all to be quite honest, but it can present itself with enlarged lymph nodes you know, common that flu like symptoms pretty much, but it can sometimes not present itself at all.

Alexis: Right. And I like that you touched on, it could present itself with enlarged lymph nodes, because I know for those who are watching, where can they even check for that? It's really easy to check for, but I'm going to let you kind of talk that through, 

Robert: You can check and your lit note areas, you know, like you just had your hand in there.

Yes. That's one of the areas you can check. 

Alexis: Yes. Cause I know one time I had, I didn't know what it was, but I knew that it felt enlarged and went to the doctor. They said, okay, we don't know what's causing it to be enlarged, but we know that means there's something going on in your body. So we're going to give you an antibiotic just because, and it could, I think the [00:03:00] main ones that can be checked are right, like in the upper region of the neck and sometimes in the groin or underneath the armpit.

Yes. Okay. Am I missing 

Robert: any? No, you're good. 

Alexis: Okay. So somebody is at home and they want to check if you feel like a large lump, that might be, go get, go to the doctor. 

Robert: Yeah. Well, quite frankly, people should get tested for HIV, regardless if there's saying 

Alexis: yes. And which activities are most likely to transmit.

Robert: Well, first and foremost, unprotected sex, however sharing needles or syringes could be another form of a tracking device. Okay. 

Alexis: Are there any interesting ways that it could be contracted that aren't popular? We talked about.

Robert: When you say interesting ways 

Alexis: all, if somebody was, can I get HIV from sitting on a toilet seat, in a public restaurant? 

Robert: There are several myths. You're exactly several myths and misnomers. That's. One of the goals that I do in the community is to educate the GTB citizens. About [00:04:00] the importance and de-mystify some of the things just mentioned, you cannot get HIV sitting on a toilet.

You can not get HIV from behind some of those things that really 

Alexis: okay. I know you said you can't get it from drinking after someone. So just because people do ask me any questions. If somebody was drinking after somebody and the person who had HIV had a cut in their mouth, could they then contract.

Robert: But not be enough blood to transmit, you know, from is, you know, it would not be enough. Blood to transmit is highly unlikely. That would be a form of transmission. Okay. 

Alexis: And can HIV live outside of the body? 

Robert: All right. So having the body and his blood to blood transmission. 

Alexis: Okay. And that's why I'm asking you all these things.

Cause you know, when people start talking, they'll throw out anything like you better not use a Porter potty. It's good to know. Actually. No, that's not true. Not true. Yes. And how can one prevent contracting HIV? 

Robert: Why can't prevent tracking HIV. And [00:05:00] obviously by remaining, I think practicing abstinence for one, or having a mutual monogamous partner, meaning that person's having sex with you.

And you're only having sex with that person. You can also prevent HIV by using safer sex materials, such as condoms. We have female and male condoms. You don't know if female condoms are available nowadays where the woman can actually wear the condom, the mangoes. So protect yourself and of course, take regular HIV screenings and tests because we're just talking about HIV.

There are other forms of sex. The disease could be present 

Alexis: as well. Yes. And what are the ways that somebody can get tested for HIV? What does that Tesla? 

Robert: Well, here in Virginia Beach, we have a very simple one minute test. You get your results in one minute is just a thing of. A finger stick, which is a finger pick much like a take a little pipe out of blood is collected and is put in a solution.

It's a 1, 2, 3 [00:06:00] step or 1, 2, 3 step process. And that the combination of that I, as a certified trained person can let you know if you've been exposed to the HIV antibodies. 

Alexis: Okay. Awesome. That sounds pretty simple. One minute, a lot's 

Robert: changed and it's free and it's F R E E. It is free, 

Alexis: free. That's good to know.

So simple are any type of HIV test available over the counter at drug stores? Or do you always have to go somewhere? 

Robert: Well, well, like I said, the services in Virginia Beach, but there are a home test kits you can buy in the store nowadays to test yourself privately. You can't do that nowadays to be quite honest.

Alexis: That's pretty awesome. Okay. And I know as far as talking about different myths and opinions and things like that, it's common that people believe that HIV is more prominent in certain populations. Could you speak on that? 

Robert: Well, HIV is a, it is a situation where anyone can contract [00:07:00] or succumb to the disease.

HIV. If your practice have unsafe behavior however, some ethnicities are more prone to HIV than others. Okay. And those are African-Americans are the leading population when it comes to being effective at HIV, but there are other populations as well, older populations because you know people are living longer, longer nowadays.

And with erectile dysfunction, medication and drugs, They're practicing. Or when I say having sex, they didn't always use protection. So it's not uncommon to cause someone to turn up HIV positive beyond their childbearing years. What have you, so it's very common. 

Alexis: Yes. I've, I've heard about that. I work with seniors at the senior community and there was a report that talked about how it had increased in the senior community.

So definitely good to know because sometimes. Don't feel like they have anybody to relate to and it does normalize it and then it can be very common. I know you're out of Virginia Beach. How prevalent is HIV in the Hampton roads [00:08:00] area? 

Robert: It's over 8,000 people living in the Eastern region of Virginia, the Eastern region of Virginia, which would be the Southern region.

Or as I say, Hampton roads, region of Virginia that are infected or affected with HIV, living with HIV. Yes. 

Alexis: Right. That's a lot of 

Robert: people. It's a lot of people where a matter of fact, in Virginia, the Eastern region is the largest, has the largest rate of HIV infection in the state. 

Alexis: For those who are worried about privacy and things like that.

I know you've mentioned that there's some free services when somebody goes to get tested. Is there any privacy measures in place or do they have to check their ID or how does that work? 

Robert: Well, first of all, all of our tests are administer, are safe, effective, and confidential. There's no IB requires.

There is a consent form that the individual must sign basically writing his or her name date of birth and giving staff here in Virginia Beach permission to, to administer the test no ideas. I mean, your number, your name out your [00:09:00] format. You turn into a number, so it was never even recorded by your name.

Awesome. It's totally anonymous in that sense. Now, if there's a reactive test, we do have services. When I say reactive, I mean a positive result, but that way a person would be referred to treatment. Or should I say, referred to the health department or a. 

Alexis: For those who may be reluctant to get tested, just because it's scary or for those who may get tested and get a positive result.

The first emotion is probably fear. I know that treatments for HIV and aids have come a long way. Could you speak to the quality of life somebody has after contracting HIV? 

Robert: Well, nowadays, people are living healthy, long and productive lives. They look just like we do on this screen as healthy as we both look because advanced the medication allowed for people to do the rule here is to early detection is best.[00:10:00]

So we all know what we're doing sexually. Okay. So if you get tested, that's how, you know, the sooner, you know, the longer you can live a healthy and productive life because the medications are, like I said, Awesome. I'm sure you guys have seen commercials about it. There was an injection you can take now.

Alexis: Yes. And I know that HIV is not always spoken about as much as it was in the nineties or even in the eighties when it first started, you know, coming onto the scene way back when. I remember there used to be a cocktail of medications. It was like 12 to 60 different pills. Somebody had to take a day, but as you mentioned, thanks, I've come a long way.

I believe now, is it one pill and, or an injection is not as bad of a treatment process anymore. Could you speak on that? 

Robert: Most antiretrovirals treatments or are one pill a day? Most of them so we have come a long way and it's really. You know, one pill a day. You have to be the takeaway here is to be adherent.

I mean, you know, to be compliant, I should say with your [00:11:00] physician and follow the doctor's orders and people that are HIV positive, a healthy and productive life. 

Alexis: Yes. And I'm so glad that you were able to confirm that because I believe that the main reason why somebody doesn't get tested is out of fear or out of shame.

And I know that it can be a very scary thing, but now that we've come such a long way with either one pill a day or an injection, and the quality of. Pretty good. I think that it would motivate people to get tested. Like, you know what, no matter what the outcome is, I'm going to be okay. There's options for me.

By the way, where can people find you to get more information about getting tested or just ask questions in general? 

Robert: Well, first of all getting tested are located in the city of Virginia Beach, which dot annex on Northwest duck road. Sweet 2d and Virginia Beach. That's at 2 58. North which duck road, suite two D they can call my number, the RTC on the screen.

7 5 7 2 8 5 0 8 1 1. And you will receive a confidential voicemail and return the [00:12:00] call and schedule an appointment and for free testing or safer sex materials or in cloud that come out in the community and provide the service and event. 

Alexis: Awesome. And for those who are from other states, are there any websites that they can go to, to figure out where they can get tested, where they are?

Robert: Well, you can always go to hiv.gov. You can go to a CDC website center for disease control intervention to find out locators here in Virginia, we have VDH website division of disease preventing. Which also can give you links to other resources for tests. 

Alexis: All right. Thank you so much, Robert.

You've given us so much information. I appreciate you. I appreciate your knowledge. Thank you so so much for joining us today. Thank 

Robert: you so much for having me and for the opportunity you have a great day. 

Alexis: Well, that's it for this segment of we are living healthy. I really hope that you found that information usable.

I really hope that you go out and get tested if you [00:13:00] haven't already. So if you would go ahead and follow us on Facebook and subscribe, we want to make sure that we're always giving you the best information. And if you have any good information that you would like to share, reach out to us so we can get you here on.

We are living healthy until next.