WELCOME TO THE LEARNING CENTER AT HYACINTH
Learning about and understanding HIV/AIDS is the first step toward personal and community health. With more than 25 years of experience responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we are the leading source for HIV education in New Jersey. Our workshops and conferences have informed and trained tens of thousands of New Jerseyans concerned about HIV. These include people at risk for HIV, people living with HIV, and the wide array of health and social service professionals serving New Jersey.
Learning is something we all do every day, whether we are aware of it or not. Hyacinth is an expert in instructional design that leverages adult learning needs and active training. Our learning facilitators are experts in both content and educational methods.
Evaluations of our training program routinely measure more than 90% and demonstrate increased knowledge about HIV transmission, prevention, care and treatment, and best practices in supportive services. Participants consistently tell us that they find our learning experiences engaging and exciting. Workshop evaluations earn an average rating of 4.77 on a 5-point scale. Here are a few comments from past participants:
“The presentation style of the instructor is excellent, demonstrating openness and the ability to engage attendees.”
“The use of numerous metaphors, references, and knowledge base really helped me understand.”
“Experience and storytelling were great.”
“Eliciting feedback and experiences from others was useful.”
“The instructor was well informed and expert.”
“Class communication and involvement were high energy.”
“I learned about subject matter I was not aware of.”
Because we know most people are self-directed learners, we have created an online HIV Facts Library (see below). It contains basic information to get you started on your learning journey, as well as links that can take you to different learning resources. If you can’t find what you need, please don’t hesitate to call our Hotline at (800) 433-0254.
HIV Facts Library
CDC estimates that about 50,000 people in the United States contract HIV each year; about 2,000 New Jerseyans contract HIV every year.
- Every 9 1/2 minutes, someone in the United States is infected with HIV
- Most new infections occur in people between 18 and 29 years of age
- Every 33 minutes, someone in the United States dies from AIDS
- Out of 100 people living with HIV in New Jersey, 53 are African American, 24 are Hispanic, and 35 are women
- African Americans are more likely to postpone medical care, be hospitalized, and die from HIV-related causes
- 1 in 5 people in the United States are unaware of their HIV infection and transmit up to 70% of new infections
- New Jersey has the highest proportion in the country of people living with HIV who are women (up to 42% in some communities)
- Newark has a higher HIV prevalence rate than Ethiopia
HIV Infection and Disease
HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is the virus that can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS.
HIV uses the white blood cells of the immune system to make more copies of the virus. The immune system protects us from disease. Over time, if undiagnosed and untreated, HIV destroys the immune system. This can lead to AIDS. AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection, when a person’s immune system is severely damaged and has difficulty fighting diseases and certain cancers.
HIV infection also creates a state of chronic inflammation in the body as it tries to fight the virus. This condition creates chronic inflammatory diseases in people living with untreated HIV infection.
HIV Transmission and Prevention
HIV is spread primarily by:
- Not using a condom when having sex with a person who has HIV. All unprotected sex with someone who has HIV contains some risk
- However, unprotected anal sex is riskier than unprotected vaginal sex
- Among men who have sex with other men, unprotected receptive anal sex is riskier than unprotected insertive anal sex
- Having multiple sex partners or the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can increase the risk of infection during sex. Unprotected oral sex can also be a risk for HIV transmission, but it is a much lower risk than anal or vaginal sex
- Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare illicit drugs for injection
- Being born to an infected mother—HIV can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breast-feeding
HIV infection is prevented by:
- Not having unprotected sex
- Not sharing injection drug use equipment
- Not using drugs and/or alcohol while having sex
- Abstinence from penetrative sex
- Everyone knowing their HIV status
- People living with HIV being in care and having undetectable viral load levels
Biomedical Prevention of HIV Transmission
Since 1993, HIV treatment has helped women with HIV to have healthy pregnancies and give birth to HIV-negative babies. New studies show that HIV treatment can also help prevent transmission to sexual partners. In addition, care services include opportunities to talk about other prevention strategies to protect yourself, as well as your partner from other sexually transmitted infections.
- Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is the use of anti-HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy) after a possible exposure to HIV. Read the CDC guidelines for PEP
- Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is the use of anti-HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy) before exposure to HIV. Read the CDC guidelines for PrEP
- Treatment as Prevention (TasP) is the use of anti-HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy) to keep the virus undetectable in people living with HIV so that they are less likely to transmit the virus to their partners. Read about TasP
- Microbicides are gels, creams, or suppositories that can kill or neutralize viruses and bacteria. When applied to the vagina before sexual intercourse, they can protect against some sexually transmitted diseases. A safe, effective, and affordable microbicide against HIV could help to prevent many new infections. The CDC is actively involved in research to identify and test potential HIV microbicides
The most commonly used HIV tests detect HIV antibodies—the substances the body creates in response to becoming infected with HIV. It can take some time for the immune system to produce enough antibodies for the antibody test to detect, and this “window period” between infection with HIV and the ability to detect it with antibody tests can vary from person to person. Most people will develop antibodies that can be detected by the most commonly used tests in the United States within 2 to 8 weeks (the average is 25 days) of their infection. Ninety-seven percent (97%) of persons will develop detectable antibodies in the first 3 months. Rapid HIV tests can give results in as little as 20 minutes. A positive HIV test result means that a person may have been infected with HIV. All positive HIV test results, regardless of whether they are from rapid or conventional tests, must be verified by a second “confirmatory” HIV test.
HIV Care and Treatment
The goals of HIV care and treatment are to:
- Monitor HIV and overall health—It is critical that you and your doctor monitor HIV and your overall health. If you are on HIV treatment, he/she will want to make sure the treatment is working. Plan to see your doctor and have blood tests done every 3 to 6 months
- Preserve immune function—HIV attacks your immune system. Your immune system is your defense against all infections. You and your doctor will create a plan to stop HIV with anti-HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy), so that your body is able to fight infection
- Prevent HIV-related chronic inflammatory disease—The immune system tries hard to fight HIV. This creates inflammation throughout your body. Unchecked, this ongoing inflammation can damage your heart, kidneys, liver, bones, and other organs, creating chronic inflammatory diseases
- Live a healthy life—Living a healthy life should include a good diet to make sure your body has the fuel it needs to fight HIV, regular exercise to maintain good muscle mass, and activities that promote good emotional and mental health
The History of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Knowing where we have been through the history of HIV/AIDS is helpful to understanding where we are now. Take some time to explore these 2 resources that tell the story of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.