December 2021
Sexual Health
Hedda Fay

Services Expanding at Northland Cares

Sexual Health with Hedda

Northland Cares is becoming much more than a specialty healthcare clinic for people living with HIV, and we are expanding our services to include STI testing and Hepatitis C testing and treatment.

One-Step PEP Program: PEP(post-exposure prophylaxis) is medication for those who have had direct exposure to HIV. We must get the medication to the person within 72 hours of their direct exposure. The closer to the time of the exposure, the better. Taken daily for 28 days, the medication will prevent becoming HIV-positive.

Northland Cares has medication in the office to allow people to begin treatment immediately. Our One-Step PEP Program involves coming to the office, where we provide one week of PEP medications, a new-patient packet, lab orders, a follow up appointment with our provider, and our PrEP/PEP Navigator Teresa will assist in getting the remaining three weeks of medication. Northland Cares keeps PEP in stock because not every pharmacy carries it, and it can range in cost between $2000 and 3000 for one month. We do not have the luxury of time to locate these medications.

Rapid-Start PrEP: PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is an excellent tool for preventing and reducing the effects of HIV infection. Think of it as you would a preventive vaccine, only it’s a medication that, when taken daily, prevents people from contracting HIV. For receptive anal sex you need to take the medications for seven days to ensure there’s enough in your system to protect against HIV transmission. For receptive vaginal sex or intravenous drug use, you need to take PrEP medications for 21 days for the same protection.

Engaging people immediately with care improves health outcomes and better serves people in our county.

When someone contacts us for PrEP medication, the first step is for them to come into the office, where we provide a new-patient packet, lab order and follow up appointment. We encourage everyone to get their labs done as quickly as possible, soon the first appointment with the provider they will be able to start the medications and leave with a prescription. No insurance (or not enough)? No problem! We’ll get you covered. Undocumented immigration status? Not to worry, we’ll get you covered!

Fast-Track HIV Care: Fast-Track HIV is an international program we have implemented here at Northland Cares. To achieve the goal of stopping the HIV epidemic, we have to stop it as soon as we find it in the community. That means whether you come to our office for a rapid HIV test or you are being tested at one of our events, if you test preliminary positive for HIV, we will start you on medications that same day!

We will provide a new-patient packet, a sample bottle of Biktarvy, a lab order, a follow up appointment, an appointment with a medical case manager, and an appointment with our in-house therapist if you need that support. We have found that engaging people immediately with care improves health outcomes and better serves people in our county.

Self-Collect STI Tests: That’s right folks, imagine being able to do an at-home or in-office self-collect full-panel STI kit! Just visit the Northland Cares website, input the required information and we’ll mail you a kit. It comes with everything you need for a three-site test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HBV, HCB, HIV and syphilis — right, we’ll test you for everything. Each kit also comes with a self-addressed stamped envelope for return to the labs, and you’ll get your results in three to five days. If you test positive/reactive for any of it, we’ll get you treated, or cured if it’s curable. STIs like HPV, HIV, HBV are treatable, there is no cure; HCV, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea are curable!

World AIDS Day Celebration: Yes, this does have a lot to do with sexual health. We are having the celebration to raise money and awareness about HIV and other STIs affecting our community. Stigma, fear, and shame discourage many from seeking treatment, and this is how it spreads through the community. We work to raise awareness about STIs and stop the stigma. Why is it we can discuss Covid-19 in public, but not syphilis? HIV is still a worldwide pandemic, even though you don’t have to die of it today.

H is for Human: In January 2022 we’re producing a stage play to remind everyone that the first letter in HIV stands for human — you know, us, as a species. I think people sometimes forget that. Our story follows a cisgender heterosexual young man a she goes through life and an HIV diagnosis. His experience is human, and we are hoping to engage the public with this original story!

Cartoons for 2022: The creative minds in the NC Outreach Department have created cartoon characters who will be educating people about themselves through short interactive cartoons. Characters include HIV, Hepatitis C, Abstinence, Masturbation, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Medical Case Manager, Doctor, Community Health Worker, Safe Syringe Program Volunteer, PEP and PrEP. We are thrilled to have this in the works, and can’t wait to show it to the world!

I'm Hedda Fay, wishing you healthy and happy orgasms through the winter season!

Hedda Fay, the Community Outreach and Program Manager of Northland Cares, answers your questions about sex and sexual health.