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HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the cells that support your immune system. The immune system helps your body fight off infection. When these cells are weakened, you are more susceptible to serious illness and infection. 

HIV can be spread through body fluids from unprotected sex with an HIV-positive partner or sharing injection needles. 

There is currently no cure for HIV but there are treatment options available to control symptoms and complications. Although HIV cannot be cured, it is highly preventable with the use of barrier contraceptives and preventative medications! 

If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). That is why protecting yourself and others from getting infected is very important.


Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV as a part of their regular health checkup. The only way to know if you have HIV is by getting tested. Knowing your HIV status is important and allows you to make the best decisions for your health. 

  • Pregnant people should get tested for HIV during each pregnancy.  If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, knowing your HIV status is especially important for you and your baby’s health. HIV can be passed to your baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. There are medications that you can take during your pregnancy and birth that will significantly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to your baby. 

  • Sexually active gay or bisexual men might benefit from getting tested more often, such as every 3 to 6 months. Discuss your risk factors and available testing options with your healthcare provider.


Black man in black and white tank top smiling

TAKEMEHOME is a sexual health home testing program that has made sexual health testing more convenient, accessible, and discreet. TAKEMEHOME expands access to sexual health testing to all communities. The program provides free STI, HIV, and PrEP panel tests (where available). TAKEMEHOME saves you a trip to the clinic or testing site by allowing you to take non-invasive tests wherever you are most comfortable. 

You can order a TAKEMEHOME sexual health testing kit by answering three eligibility questions:

  1. Zip Code

  2. Date of Birth and Gender Identity

  3. When was your last STI/HIV test? 

After completing the eligibility questions, the program will show you the STI/HIV testing options available to you. Once your order is placed, your testing kits will be discreetly mailed to you in 1-3 business days. 

Learn more about self-testing here

To get a free HIV test, visit: TakeMeHome


If you have been diagnosed with HIV, remember, you are not alone. There are many resources and support groups you might be able to use: 

  • HIV Care and Treatment Costs Assistance: There are many options such as Medicaid and Medicare available to assist with paying for HIV medications and services. Additionally, programs like the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program works with low-income people to ensure access to essential services. 

  • Mental Health Support: If you are dealing with a crisis or have thoughts of suicide, 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a 24 hour hotline that provides prevention and crisis resources. 

  • EOC LGBTQ+ Resource Center: It provides supportive services to community members in the Fresno County area.

  • Family Planning & Contraception: If you plan on becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor about what steps you need to take for family planning to reduce the risks of passing HIV to your baby. If you are trying to prevent pregnancy, it is safe for women with HIV to use birth control. 

HIV and Birth Control chart

Learn more about family planning and contraceptive methods here


While there is no cure for HIV, the infection can be managed through antiretroviral therapy or ART. ART helps by reducing your viral load, the amount of HIV in your blood, and is recommended to start as soon as a diagnosis is made. ART involves taking a combination of HIV medications daily. Your doctor will work with you to decide which medications will be the best for you. 

Managing HIV with ART can make your viral load undetectable – meaning the amount of HIV in your blood is so low, it doesn’t show up when you get tested! With an undetectable viral load, you will not be able to transmit HIV to another person. However, this does not protect you from transmission of other STIs. Continue using barrier contraceptive methods to help protect from other STIs. 

Learn more about HIV management here


If you are HIV positive, talk with your doctor about ways to effectively manage the condition and how to reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby. Some options include:

  • Medication management. Take anti-HIV medications during pregnancy and delivery as prescribed by your doctor. 

  • Consider your birthing options. If the risk of transmission is high, you and your doctor can discuss whether a cesarean birth is right for you.

  • Consider your feeding options. Talk with your doctor about other feeding options for your baby such as donor milk or formula feeding.

Learn more about HIV and pregnancy here


Remember HIV is preventable! Here are some tips to prevent infection:

  • Protect yourself during sex. Condoms are a barrier method of contraception that should be used during every sexual encounter to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. When used correctly, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV infection. 

  • Protect yourself if you use injectable drugs. You should always use new, clean needles before injecting. Some needle exchange programs allow you to trade your used needles for new ones. The San Joaquin Valley Free Medical Clinic & Needle Exchange offers free services in Fresno. 

  • PrEP. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a preventive medication that reduces your risk of HIV infection. PrEP can be taken as an oral or injectable medication. When taken consistently, PrEP has an effectiveness rate of approximately 99%. 

Learn more about PrEP and its effectiveness here

  • PEP. PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is an emergency preventive medication that should be taken after potential exposure to HIV. PEP must be taken within 72 hours after the possible exposure to be most effective. The sooner PEP is taken the better. If you think you have been exposed to HIV, talk to your doctor immediately. You could be potentially exposed to HIV:

  • During unprotected sex

  • Sharing needles or syringes

  • Have been sexually assaulted


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