All About HIV/AIDS
At our Reading office: (No appointment needed.)
- Tuesdays 11am-7pm
- Thursdays 9am-1pm
At our Pottsville office: (No appointment needed.)
- Wednesdays 3pm-6pm.
About the Test: There are a number of different tests that can be used to determine whether or not you are infected with HIV. When you come to CCWS for an HIV test, a Prevention Specialist will tell you about the different tests we offer. You can choose the test that is best for you.
When you come to CCWS for an HIV test, you will get to talk to a Prevention Specialist.
You can ask the Prevention Specialist anything you want to know about HIV and your risk for HIV. Your conversation with the Prevention Specialist is confidential. If you decide to take the HIV test you can choose to be tested “anonymously” (without using your real name) or “confidentially,” (using your real name).
The Prevention Specialist will also help you to choose the type of HIV test that is best for you.
If you test positive for HIV, the Prevention Specialist can link you to the available care and supportive services in your community.
If you do not test positive, the Prevention Specialist can provide you with a menu of prevention options to help you think about the things you can do to remain HIV/STD free.
What is HIV? “HIV” stands for “Human Immunodeficiency Virus.” It is a virus that weakens the human immune system. When the immune system is weakened, it is hard for a person to fight off infections. Untreated, HIV leads to AIDS.
How is HIV spread? HIV can be spread by HIV infected blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk. Today, in the United States, HIV is usually spread through: unprotected sex (oral, anal, vaginal) and/or the sharing of drug injection equipment (needles, syringes, cookers, cotton, tourniquets).
What are the symptoms of HIV infection? Most people get flu-like symptoms in the first two weeks after they are infected with HIV. But, most people do not think of these symptoms as a sign of HIV infection. Instead, they just think they have the flu.
After the first two weeks, the flu-like symptoms go away and most people don’t have any other symptoms for 10 or more years. This is why a lot of people do not know they are infected with HIV.
When people do not know they are infected with HIV, they can also spread HIV without knowing it. That is why it is important for everyone who may be at risk for HIV to be tested for HIV.
How will I know if I am infected with HIV? The only way to know for sure if you are infected with HIV is to be tested.
Who should be tested for HIV? Everyone who has had unprotected sex (anal, vaginal or oral) or shared any drug injection equipment (needles, syringes, cotton, cookers, tourniquets, etc.) should think about being tested for HIV.
If you are not sure if you should be tested for HIV, you can take an anonymous online assessment to help you decide: Find out if you are at risk.
Where can I be tested for HIV? You can come to Co-County Wellness Services, or find free HIV testing options near you. You can also talk to your medical provider about being tested for HIV.
How reliable is the HIV test? The HIV test is more than 99% accurate.
How can I prevent HIV infections?
- Abstinence – choosing to not have sex and not to use drugs/alcohol – is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV infection.
- Mutual monogamy – having only one sex partner, who is not infected, and who is only having sex with you – is the next best method of preventing the HIV infection through sex.
- Not sharing drug injection equipment is the next best method of preventing HIV infection through injection drugs.
If these choices are not realistic for you, you may want to talk with one of our Prevention Specialists about things you can do to lower your risk for HIV infection.
Support Our Cause
Co-County Wellness Services improves public health through service, education, and advocacy in the PA counties of Berks and Schuylkill. We provide free case case management, HIV medication education; HIV and STD Counseling and Testing; prevention interventions and lead a teen pregnancy prevention initiative Berks Teens Matter.
Thank you for considering a donation to Co-County Wellness Services, a community based 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. Your financial donation is tax deductible and it enables CCWS to continue providing service, education, and advocacy for the public health.