Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) weakens the immune system and leads to an increased risk for more severe infections. While there is no cure, HIV can be controlled with medications, and people living with HIV can have a life expectancy equal to someone without HIV. You can learn more in this HIV Fact Sheet.
All people between the ages of 13 and 65 should be tested for HIV, but some people are at increased risk of HIV and should be tested regularly. This includes men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, people who have ever had a sexually transmitted infection, people who have been sexually active with someone at risk for HIV, and sex workers. It is important to get tested because HIV may have no symptoms for years, and many people with HIV do not know they have it.
HIV prevention measures are important for reducing the risk of contracting and spreading this disease. Condoms, regular HIV testing, and safe injection equipment are effective strategies for preventing HIV. If you are at high risk for contracting HIV, your MAHEC healthcare provider can prescribe a medication that can reduce your risk when taken daily as prescribed. You can learn more about pre-exposure prophylaxis in this PrEP Fact Sheet.
In the past, HIV treatment involved taking many pills with toxic side effects, and treatment often did not work well. Today, HIV medications are easier to tolerate and are effective when taken as prescribed. Many one-pill-a-day options exist and may be covered by insurance including Medicaid and Medicare. Even if you are uninsured or underinsured, there are federal programs that can help pay for your medication and copayments.
If you are a person living with HIV, you do not need a referral to make an appointment with our Next Step Clinic for HIV.
MAHEC accepts most major forms of health insurance including Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. If you do not have insurance, our financial assistance program can help make your visits affordable. We work with community partners to help make medication and lab services available at low or no cost when assistance is needed.
If you need to be tested, contact your healthcare provider or call Buncombe County Health Department at 828- 250-5000 or WNCAP at 828-252-7489 to schedule an appointment for a free and confidential test.
If you have tested positive, you can ask your healthcare provider to make a referral to the Next Step Clinic at MAHEC Family Health Center or you can call 828-257-4730 to schedule an appointment.