HIV/STD Prevention Program

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Harris County Public Health’s (HCPH) Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) / Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Prevention Program, provides cost free mobile HIV and STI testing, clinical services, education, and counseling. Our services are geared to help prevent the spread of HIV and STIs in the Harris and Montgomery County community.

Overview of HIV, STIs, and Sexual Health
Overview of HIV

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is an infection that can be transmitted from one person to another from sharing needles, sexual contact, and from mother to baby during birth, breastfeeding, or pregnancy. When an individual is infected with HIV, the virus causes serious damage to their immune system, making it easy for them to acquire opportunistic infections. The most advanced stage of HIV infection is called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, and it can be deadly. There is currently no cure for HIV, once someone is infected, they will have it for life. However, people living with HIV can take medication that helps them live a long, healthy life and protect their sexual partners.

Symptoms of HIV

Many people have flu-like symptoms within 2-4 weeks after they have been infected with HIV. Some of the possible symptoms include fever, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and mouth ulcers as seen in the image to the right. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Please be aware that a person can still be infected with HIV although they may not have symptoms. The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested.

img-overview-hiv

Overview of STIs

There are many other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some of them can be cured, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Hepatitis B, herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV) however, are incurable diseases that can be managed with treatment. All of these can cause serious damage to people’s health and even threaten their lives. Please be aware that a person can still have an STI although they may not have symptoms. The only way to know for sure if you have an STI is to get tested.

Preventing HIV with PrEP
Preventing HIV with PrEP

PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis is medication taken by HIV-negative people to prevent getting HIV from sexual contact or injection drug use. PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by 99% when taken as prescribed.

Two types of PreP:

  • Truvada®external icon is for all people at risk through sex or injection drug use.
  • Descovy®external icon is for people at risk through sex, except for people assigned female at birth who are at risk of getting HIV from vaginal sex.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html

Positive Results and Treatment
Positive Results

People who have a positive HIV or STI result should seek treatment as soon as possible. Their sexual partners and needle-sharing partners should be notified so that they can receive services as well. There are two ways to let partners know that they have shared needles or sex with an HIV positive patient:

  1. The partner can contact them directly, or
  2. A Disease Intervention Specialist (a worker who is specifically trained and certified to tell people that they may be infected with HIV or other STIs) can notify them without telling them the patient's name.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html

Treatment and U=U

The amount of HIV in the blood is called viral load. Medical treatment reduces the amount of HIV in the blood. Staying on HIV medicine can make the viral load so low that it is considered virally suppressed. A person who is HIV positive can reach such a low viral load that a test cannot detect the virus in the blood, this is called an undetectable viral load. Having an undetectable viral load prevents transmission of HIV through sexual contact. An undetectable viral load means HIV is untransmittable (U=U).

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/livingwithhiv/treatment.html

Testing123
Free, Fast, Friendly Mobile Testing!

We are an innovative team of dedicated health professionals that believe in meeting people where they are to help prevent illness. This may mean physically or mentally. We will meet you wherever you are on your health journey. Because of this, we travel anywhere in the Greater Harris County area to provide FREE HIV and Syphilis testing along with condoms and lubrication. All testing is free, fast confidential, and conducted by one of our friendly Risk Reduction Specialists.

Contact us for information or to schedule a testing visit at (281) 962-8378 or (281) 962-TEST.

For other free HIV/STI testing services, please click here or use the below locator to find a facility near you!

https://gettested.cdc.gov/

 
What Happens After Testing?

Our Linkage to Care Specialist provides you with the confidence to begin your HIV treatment and care journey. With their help, you will be referred to specialized care tailored to your needs and overall health goals. Most are linked into care within 30 days of a positive HIV/STI diagnosis. The Linkage to Care Specialist will follow up with you and ensure that you are satisfied with your care plan and services.

 
Common Questions About Testing

Will the Syphilis or HIV test hurt?

You will feel a small sting on your finger. Your finger will be pricked to withdraw blood. If the test results are positive, blood will be drawn from the vein for further lab analysis and confirmation.

How long will it take for me to get results?

You will know your results within 10 minutes. If the results are positive, a blood sample will be drawn, and a confirmed result will be given to you within 3 days.

Is it free?

YES! Our HIV and syphilis testing services are completely free.

What kind of tests will be used?

HIV: Our team uses the INSTI HIV-1/HIV-2 Antibody test which is a rapid test that detects antibodies to HIV Type 1 and 2. The INSTI test is 99.96% accurate and results are ready as quickly as 1 minute.

Learn more at https://www.insti.com/hiv-test/.

Syphilis: Our team uses the Syphilis Health Check rapid test to detect antibodies to syphilis in the blood. It is 97.6% accurate and results are ready in 10 minutes.

Learn more here.

Do you draw blood?

Yes, your finger will be pricked to withdraw blood for both tests.

How long does my appointment take?

It will take about 30 minutes. We will go over your risks for acquiring HIV.

How accurate is the test?

The INSTI HIV test is 99.96% accurate, making it more accurate than similar HIV tests. The Syphilis Health Check test is 97.6% agreement to other tests.

Had unprotected sex but do not want to get tested yet? Talk to a health educator today.

Chat online or text "PPNOW" to 774636 to get answers about STIs. Standard message and data rates may apply. Text HELP for information.*

*This service is provided through Planned Parenthood. Learn more here.

Contact Testing123 for HIV/Syphilis testing information or to schedule a testing visit at (281) 962-8378 or (281) 962-TEST.

If you have more questions about STIs, HIV, and your overall sexual health, please visit our Sexual Health Tools and Resources page.

Anonymous Partner Notification

The app at https://tellyourpartner.org/ is a helpful tool for contacting a sexual partner anonymously to let them know they might be at risk of an STD. If you text a partner, it will always be anonymous. Learn more about how this works here.

Prevention Services Clinic (COMING SOON)
Services

Our clinic will be providing walk-in, mobile and by appointment clinical services at 5815 Antoine Dr, Houston, TX 77091.

Harris County Public Health’s Prevention Services Clinic offers:

PrEP services: PrEP, the once-a-day pill to PREVENT HIV infection will be offered at our HCPH Antoine Drive clinic. You can choose to schedule an in-person appointment or use our TelePrEP service option to start PrEP in the comfort of your own home.

STI Testing: HCPH’s Antoine drive clinic location will be offering testing, diagnosis, and treatment services for:

Sexually Transmitted Infections
Infections Associated with Sex
Chlamydia
Candidiasis / Yeast Infections
Trichomoniasis
Bacterial Vaginosis
Trichomoniasis
Hepatitis C
Warts
Herpes
Syphilis

Pregnancy testing: If you suspect you are pregnant, the HCPH Antoine Drive clinic location offers fast, affordable pregnancy testing and linkage to care providers.

Immunizations: HCPH’s Antoine Drive location will be offering the following immunizations:

  • Tdap (Tetanus)
  • Hepatitus A
  • Hepatitus B
  • HPV

Health and Wellness Clinic Locations 

Harris County Public Health offers HIV/STD prevention counseling, testing, and linkage to care services to eligible patients at our Health and Wellness Clinic locations across Harris County. When needed, we refer patients to partner agencies for:

  1. Routine medical and social services
  2. HIV risk reduction
  3. Treatment for patients with HIV/AIDs

Scheduling Appointments 

To schedule an appointment for a wellness exam, which may include testing for HIV and other STDs, you can call Harris County Public Health’s Patient Appointment Call Center at (713) 212-6800.

Cannot make it to HCPH for your PrEP needs? 

Try out this PrEP locator to find a provider near you at https://preplocator.org/.

HIV Risk Assessment Tools 

Learn how you can prevent acquiring or transmitting HIV at https://hivrisk.cdc.gov/can-prevent-getting-transmitting-hiv/

Learn the HIV risk of different sexual activities when one partner is HIV positive and one partner is HIV negative (a discordant partnership) at https://hivrisk.cdc.gov/risk-estimator-tool/#-sb.