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    Saturday, December 7, 2019-11:51:57A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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CHCC observes World AIDS Day; encourages NMI residents to know their status

(CHCC) — World AIDS Day is observed each year on December 1, and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, show their support for people living with HIV, and remember those who have passed away. Started in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2019 was “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Community by Community.” Since 1997, the CNMI has had less than 50 cases of HIV/AIDS. Although the numbers are low, it does exist.

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.-HIV/STD Resource and Treatment Center encourages anyone who has had unprotected sex and or shared needles for injection drug use to get tested. Knowing your status is important, not only for yourself but for your sexual partners. An HIV test can take as little as 30 minutes to get results, and the sooner you know your status the more control you have in prevention and treatment.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, our body’s natural defense against illnesses, which makes a person with HIV more vulnerable to other diseases and infections like pneumonia and tuberculosis. HIV can be passed from person to person through unprotected sex or sharing needles for drug use. Mothers with untreated HIV can give it to their babies during pregnancy and birth, and mothers who are HIV positive cannot breastfeed their children. Without medication, HIV can also lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS. People are diagnosed with AIDS when their cell count known as the CD4 drops below 200cells/mm or when they develop certain illnesses such as pneumocystis pneumonia, certain types of cancer, and candidiasis — also known as thrush.

Today, many new treatments are improving the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. Most patients take daily medication, usually in the form of pills, called Antiretroviral therapy or ART. The goal of ART is to get a person’s HIV down to an “undetectable viral load” — also called being virally suppressed. This means that the level of HIV in a person’s blood is very low, and according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “People with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partner through sex.”

HIV is a lifelong diagnosis, but the disease is better understood than even just a few years ago and treatment is available. The CHCC provides prevention and testing services, which aim to prevent infections before they occur and reduce the impact on people who are affected, in addition to treatment options. For more information on testing or an appointment with a medical provider, please contact the HIV/STD Resource & Treatment Center at 664-4050.

Condoms are also a crucial part of HIV and STD prevention. Using condoms correctly can significantly reduce your chances of passing on STDs to your partner or partners, and are also effective at preventing pregnancy. The CHCC Family Planning Program offers condoms at no charge to all CNMI residents. Contact the Family Planning Program at 234-8951 (choose the option for Family Planning) or 664-8701 for more information, or pick up some free condoms at the CHCC Public Health Office (by the dental clinic), Maternal and Child Health Bureau Office on the 4th floor of Marianas Business Plaza, the CHCC Outpatient Pharmacy, PHI Pharmacy in Dandan, the Rota Health Center and the Tinian Health Center.

For more information on World AIDS Day, visit: https://www.worldaidsday.org

For more information on HIV/AIDS, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/default.html

For more information about its programs, follow CHCC on Facebook and Twitter at @cnmichcc, check out its website at www.chcc.gov.mp or call 234-8950.