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Healthwatch 16: HIV and AIDS

Planned Parenthood Keystone wants people to know what's out there to help in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

"We know that HIV and Aids are still very highly stigmatized. We also know that rates of transmission have increased over the last few years," said Melissa Reed, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Keystone, which covers 37 Pennsylvania counties.

Wilkes-Barre and Allentown are physical locations in or near our viewing area.

Reed says Planned Parenthood's mission is to provide nonjudgmental, compassionate health care to everyone, including sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, birth control, HIV testing, and now, two medications known as PrEP and PEP.

"PrEP and PEP are HIV prophylaxis medications, and they lower the risk of someone getting HIV," Reed said.

PrEP is used pre-exposure to help prevent HIV. PEP is used post-exposure. Reed says there's a small window to use it if you believe you've already been exposed.

Planned Parenthood Keystone started offering the medications last summer but wanted to get the word out they're available.

Experts say as we all focus on eradicating COVID-19, we shouldn't stop talking about doing the same with HIV.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has really been the focus of health care for the last year. But we also know that other types of health care cannot wait, and the pandemic is a reminder that no one is safe until everyone is safe."

Reed says if you need their services, you can visit one of their locations, but Planned Parenthood Keystone also offers telehealth appointments, and she notes there is a mobile app you can download for more information.