Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

HIV AIDS Overview

Overview

A healthy immune system protects against infections and disease. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system.

HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. If HIV infection is untreated, it can progress to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS results from a weakened immune system and can lead to the development of multiple infections and even certain cancers. HIV destroys specific blood cells of the immune system, called CD4+ T-cells. These cells are important in helping the body fight diseases.

Although HIV infection and AIDS are serious medical conditions, the availability of potent new treatments allow people with HIV/AIDS to live long and healthy lives.

Risk Factors

Only specific body fluids from an HIV-infected person (blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk) can transmit HIV. These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane, damaged tissue or be directly injected into the blood-stream (from a needle or syringe) for infection to occur.

HIV can be spread from one person to another in these ways:

  • By having unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex with a person who has HIV. 
  • By sharing needles, syringes, or other injection equipment with a person who has HIV.
  • Through pregnancy, the birth process, or breastfeeding from an HIV infected woman to her baby.

HIV is not spread through:

  • Donating blood.
  • Kissing (there is a rare chance of getting HIV from open-mouthed or "French" kissing if there''s contact with blood).
  • Touch, like a handshake or a hug.
  • Sharing food or drinks.
  • Sharing personal items; utensils (forks, knives or spoons), towel, bedding, or telephones.
  • Toilet seats.

Testing and Diagnosis

When a person is infected with HIV, their body responds by making antibodies to protect them and fight the virus. Blood tests for an HIV infection determine if antibodies to HIV are present, rather than testing for the presence of the virus itself. HIV test results are either reactive or non-reactive.

Reactive. The test found antibodies to HIV. If you test positive for HIV antibodies in your blood, it means you have an HIV infection. Next, you will be referred to your primary care doctor or an HIV specialty clinic doctor. Getting early medical care when you are HIV positive is an important part of living a long, healthy life.

Non-reactive. The test did not find any HIV antibodies in your blood. It is important to understand that if you were exposed to HIV in the past 6 months, the antibodies may still be developing, even if your results are HIV negative. You may need to be tested again, depending on your risk factors.

Indeterminate. On rare occasions, a test is inconclusive and additional testing is necessary. Our laboratory will perform several additional sensitive tests to confirm an HIV infection. This may often take an additional 1 to 2 weeks. An indeterminate sample does not always result in a positive test for HIV antibodies. 

It is important to know that once HIV enters the body, it takes an average of 2 to 12 weeks, or up to 6 months, for HIV antibodies to be present in the blood and show up in an HIV test. This is often referred to as the window period for detection. This means that if you test HIV negative, but were exposed more recently than 6 months ago, you may still have HIV but have not yet developed antibodies. We recommend you discuss your need for additional testing with your medical provider.

Symptoms

Within a few weeks of exposure to HIV, you may develop a flu-like illness called the Acute Retroviral Syndrome. Symptoms can include fever, swollen lymph nodes (glands in the neck and groin), rash and feeling very tired. Usually these symptoms go away within a few weeks. It is also possible to have no symptoms of HIV infection for many years. Even if there are no signs of illness, you can still pass HIV to another person.

As the HIV infection progresses, your immune system gets weaker. On average, it takes up to 10 years for more serious symptoms of HIV infection to develop. These symptoms may include:

  • Night sweats from which you wake up soaking wet.
  • Fever over 100 ° F with chills that continue for weeks at a time.
  • Persistent, severe fatigue that makes it difficult for you to perform daily tasks or go to work or school.
  • Lymph nodes that are swollen and stay swollen for months.
  • Long-term (chronic) diarrhea.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

AIDS

AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection when the virus has damaged your immune system so severely that you are no longer able to fight off infections and some cancers. Without medical treatment, HIV can progress to AIDS in just a few years. We now have many well-tolerated medications that reduce the amount of HIV in your body and slow the progression of the infection. This can allow you to live many years, or even decades, with HIV with current life expectancy approaching normal for many.

Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS. While it is true that some individuals possess a genetic trait that may keep them from progressing to AIDS it is an exceedingly rare occurrence. For all other people with HIV, maintaining good health and carefully following their treatment plan is the only way to help prevent progressing to AIDS.

Prevention

There are effective ways to prevent the spread of HIV. Follow these guidelines to protect yourself from exposure to HIV or from spreading it to others if you have HIV/AIDS.

The most common ways to transmit HIV are through anal or vaginal sex or by sharing needles or injection equipment with a person infected with HIV. Steps to reduce these risks include:

Practice safer sex. Latex condoms (or polyurethane condoms if you or your partner is allergic to latex) can help to protect you and your partner against HIV and many other STDs.

Do not share needles. If you use IV drugs, use clean needles whenever possible. If you do share needles, clean them first with bleach and water. If you get a tattoo or any body piercing, make sure the person providing the service is using new needles.

Talk with your partner. Talk openly and honestly with your partner about safer sex. Be clear about what you will and will not do sexually. Also, respect what your partner will and will not do. Decide together what is right for both of you.

If you think you were exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours, let us know immediately. We can provide you with medications that help to decrease the likelihood that you will become HIV positive. These medications are most effective when started as soon as possible after a risk exposure. For immediate assistance, call to speak with an advice nurse who can arrange for you to get care as quickly as possible. Advice is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The latest advance in HIV prevention is Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). People at high risk for HIV infection can take a daily medication to lower the chance of getting infected.

Studies show that PrEP:

  • Helps prevent an HIV-negative person from getting HIV from a sexual or injection-drug-using partner who's positive.
  • Is highly effective for preventing HIV when used as prescribed.
  • Is much less effective when it's not taken correctly and consistently.
Talk with your doctor if you feel PrEP might be right for you. Even though PrEP can be extremely effective in preventing infection with HIV, it doesn't protect you from other STD's (such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis C and others). Continue to practice safer sex methods.  

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

What is PrEP?

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a way for people who do not have HIV to reduce the chance of becoming infected by taking a prescription pill once a day. When used with other prevention methods, such as condoms, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV infection.

How do I know if PrEP is right for me?

PrEP may benefit you if you are HIV-negative and ANY of the following apply to you:

  • You have an HIV-positive partner.
  • You have unprotected sex with someone who might have HIV.
  • You have unprotected sex with more than one partner.
  • You have unprotected sex with a partner who has other partners.
  • You have unprotected sex with a partner who uses injection drugs.
  • You recently had a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
  • You share needles or equipment to inject drugs.

Talk to your doctor if you are interested in PrEP.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

What is PEP?

PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a way to reduce your chance of getting HIV AFTER a high-risk exposure, such as unprotected sex or sharing a needle with someone who might have HIV. PEP should be started as soon as possible, and not more than 72 hours (3 days) after the exposure.

For more information, call our Appointment and Advice line at 866-454-8855 immediately after an exposure.

Treatment

While there is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS, effective treatment is available to slow the progression of HIV and possibly prevent AIDS. If you test HIV positive you will be referred to an HIV specialist who will get you started on a treatment plan so that you can manage HIV/AIDS and stay healthy over your lifetime.

The management of HIV and AIDS is a rapidly changing field of medicine. At Kaiser Permanente, an HIV specialist who keeps current on the treatment of HIV and AIDS will manage your care.  Your HIV specialty care includes:

  • Routine visits with your doctor.
  • Access to other health professionals who specialize in HIV (nurse, pharmacist, social worker, dietician, health educator).
  • Lab tests to check the health of your immune system and the amount of virus in your body.
  • HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) are special HIV medications that help to reduce the amount of virus in your body and maintain the health of your immune system.

When to Call Us

If you think you were exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours, let us know immediately. We can provide you with medications that help to decrease the likelihood that you will become HIV positive. These medications are most effective when started as soon as possible after a risk exposure. For immediate assistance, call to speak with an advice nurse who can arrange for you to get care as quickly as possible. Advice is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It is recommended that you have follow-up HIV testing at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months after a possible exposure. If you test HIV positive, you will be referred to an HIV specialty care team. Important to living a healthy life with HIV or AIDS is regular medical care with an HIV doctor and learning what you can do to live healthily with HIV.

If you think you're at high risk for HIV infection, consider using PrEP. Talk with your doctor about a referral to a PrEP program. 

Additional References:

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.

This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.