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HIV Health & Wellness FAQs

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically your CD4 cells. CD4 cells help the immune system fight infections. Untreated, HIV reduces the amount of CD4 cells in your body making way for other infections or infection-related cancers. There is currently no effective cure but with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. People with HIV who maintain effective treatment can live long, healthy lives and protect their partners from transmission.

To learn the basic facts about HIV and transmission, click here.

The only way to be sure of your HIV status is to get tested.

If you have never been tested, now is the time. Talk to your Primary Care Provider (PCP) or call GVHC and request a test today. Know for sure. Get tested.

Additional Testing Sites:

FPA Women’s Health

McHenry Medical Office (MMO)
1209 Woodrow Ave., Modesto 209-558-5312

Paradise Medical Office (PMO)
401 Paradise Rd., Modesto

Planned Parenthood

Quest Diagnostics

Stockton Health Center
1601 E. Hazelton Ave, Stockton, CA 209-468-3830

If you have been diagnosed with HIV it means you were exposed to the virus and a test has shown that you are now living with HIV in your body. Even with current treatment, you will not be able to rid your body of HIV completely. Once you have HIV, you will live with it for the rest of your life.

Medication we have today—the combination of drugs called antiretroviral therapy (ART), allows millions of people living with HIV to lead full lives. If you begin ART quickly and work with your Provider on a plan for your overall health, you will be taking a major first step toward managing your chronic disease.

No. Testing positive for HIV does not mean you have AIDS. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV disease. HIV can lead to AIDS if a person does not get treatment or take care of their health. However, if a person with HIV takes their HIV medication as prescribed, they may stay healthy for many years and may never be diagnosed with AIDS.

To learn the importance of taking medication as prescribed, click here. For AIDS information, click here.

An HIV diagnosis can be life-changing, but we are here to help. Our priority is to help you understand your diagnosis, set a medical appointment with an HIV Provider, and start treatment.

As a newly diagnosed patient, you are eligible for Rapid ART. Our HIV care team will explain Rapid ART, help you through your care journey and help you get the services you need. Contact HIV Health & Wellness today.

For more information on a new diagnosis, click here.

Rapid ART is quick access to medical treatment and support services to help patients with HIV. The program includes antiretroviral therapies, education and resources to help patients stay healthy and stay in care.

In 2020, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funded a Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) initiative to explore Rapid ART best practices. The program, called Building Capacity to Implement Rapid ART initiation for Improved Engage Care is evaluated through the University of California. There are 15 Rapid ART demonstration sites in the U.S., including Golden Valley Health Centers.

For CDC Rapid ART best practices information, click here.

Call 209-722-GVHC to see if rapid ART is right for you. You can also contact your Primary Care Provider and ask to be connected to HIV Health & Wellness. You will be contacted by our Program Specialist who will be your partner through your care journey. The Program Specialist is a direct link to our HIV Providers and they will connect you to any additional services you may need to reach your health goals.

The care visit is your HIV Provider’s time to assess your health and your time to learn about how you can live and thrive with HIV. Your Provider will ask many questions about your health, but remember, this is your time to ask questions and provide input into your care. Your HIV Provider plays an important role in your health journey, but you are they key to staying healthy. Your health depends on your active participation in your care.

For general information on HIV medical visits, click here.

Each person’s needs are different. Our Program Specialist will work with you and ask some questions before your appointment. During your visit, your HIV Provider will work with you to find the best plan for you.

Learn more about treatment options here.

Yes. Our HIV Providers provide complete care to all patients living with HIV or AIDS, but some conditions may apply. Contact us to ask about establishing care with Golden Valley Health Centers.

Yes, you may receive HIV services, including rapid ART, even if you are not a GVHC patient. Contact us at 209-722-GVHC to find out how

If you have been diagnosed with HIV or other STIs, it is important to tell your current and former sex or injection drug-use partners they may have been exposed. Telling partners that you have HIV lets them know they should be tested. Here are a few ways to let your partners know:

  • You tell your partner
  • The Health Department tells your partners. This is sometimes called “Partner Notifications”
  • You and the health department staff work together to tell your partners

Through Partner Notifications, Health Department staff notify your current and former sex and/or injection drug-use partners (without saying who you are) that they may have been exposed to HIV and/or other STIs and provide them with testing, counseling, and referrals for other services.

Sharing your HIV status with trusted family and friends can give you support and help you cope with your diagnosis. Trusted people can speak for you in case of an emergency and help you understand your medical care. They can also help you work through what you should say to others. Whom you tell is up to you and only you.

If you do not have someone to talk to about your HIV status, let a member of your Care Team know that you are interested in support. We want to prevent everyone from facing HIV alone. Your Program Specialist can connect you to support services.

Most insurance plans cover HIV services. There are options to help you with the cost of medication and care. Your Program Specialist can connect you to these options if you qualify.

HIV Health & Wellness is located:
3940 Sandpiper Ave.
Merced, CA 95340

Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Call (209) 722-GVHC (4842) for appointment availability.

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