HIV Prevention/PrEP Prophylaxis

Our Commitment to Zero New Infections

Southwest Care Center is dedicated to decreasing the new infection rate for HIV/AIDS to zero in our community. We know that the best way to do this is to offer effective options to our patients and our community. No one way of protecting people from the HIV condition works for everyone or in all cases. As a patient of Southwest Care Center, you can have a discussion with our team about what makes the most sense for you. We are a place of inclusion and compassion. We respect everyone’s right to be informed and to have care tailored to their unique needs.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

Southwest Care Center is proud to offer PrEP to its patients. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) has been shown to dramatically lower the chances of getting infected with the HIV virus. PrEP works by preventing the virus from taking hold in the body and can be highly effective for HIV prevention when taken as prescribed.

PrEP involves taking a single tablet, which is a combination of two medicines, tenofovir and emtricitabine, commonly marketed and sold under the name Truvada®. The FDA has approved Truvada® for daily use in HIV-negative adults and adolescents weighing at least 35 kg (about 77 lbs.).

Daily PrEP treatment reduces the risk of contracting HIV through sexual contact by more than 90% and it reduces the risk by more than 70% for those who use injection drugs. Combining PrEP with other safe sex methods (especially condom use) can further reduce your risk of getting HIV from sexual contact.

Southwest CARE Center’s PrEP program is a “one-stop shop” for your PrEP and sexually-transmitted infection (STI) medical needs. By becoming a patient of our PrEP program, you will get routine HIV & STI screening every 3 months, treatment for STIs if needed, and access to Truvada® for PrEP at our in-house pharmacy or local pharmacy of your choice. Our dedicated PrEP Navigators can also help you obtain medication and treatment that is discounted or as affordable as possible.

Southwest CARE Center can see you same day, Monday-Friday, to evaluate your risk and prescribe optimal PEP therapy if you have had an exposure. It is important that you see us within 72 hours of your exposure.

Please call 1-855-BTR-2KNW (855-287-2569) to schedule your appointment today.

PrEP may help if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have an HIV-positive partner.
  • You have receptive anal or vaginal sex without a condom and/or with partners whose HIV status you don’t know.
  • You’ve recently had an STI.
  • You or your sexual partners use alcohol or drugs, and you are at risk for HIV from sex or drug use.
  • You have taken Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection following an exposure to HIV.
  • You (or your sexual partners) exchange sex for money, food, housing, drugs etc.
  • You (or your sexual partners) have multiple partners.
  • You inject drugs and share needles or equipment.
  • You inject drugs and are at risk for getting HIV from sexual contact.

Other Ways to Protect Yourself From HIV

Only certain body fluids – blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk – from a person who has HIV can transmit HIV. These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to occur. Mucous membranes are found inside the rectum, vagina, penis, and mouth.

Whether you are HIV positive or not, you should always take precautions to protect yourself. Our care providers and researchers have been working with HIV patients for over 20 years, and we would like to share the following steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming infected with HIV or spreading the infection to others:

  • Know your HIV status. Anyone age 13 – 65 regardless of reported risks who is sexually active or has shared equipment for injection drug use should be tested for HIV at least once. Everyone should be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime. Pregnant women should be tested for HIV during every pregnancy. If you are at ongoing risk for HIV, you should consider being tested for HIV at least once a year. To discuss your risk for HIV, please make an appointment with one of our trained testing counselors by calling 855-BTR-2KNW.
  • Consider taking PrEP if you have ongoing exposure or high-risk exposure to HIV. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with daily Truvada is highly effective at preventing HIV infection, and the medication is offered at Southwest Care Center. 
  • Locate an HIV testing site. All of our providers offer HIV testing as part of routine healthcare. Some of our sites also offer hours for free ‘walk-in’ HIV testing. You can search for additional HIV testing sites in the state of New Mexico at http://www.nmhivguide.org/. You can also call 800-CDC-INFO, visit gettested.cdc.gov or locator.hiv.gov, or texting your ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948).
  • Get tested and treated. People with HIV should take medicine to treat HIV as soon as possible. HIV medicine is called antiretroviral therapy, or ART. If taken as prescribed, HIV medicine reduces the amount of HIV in the body (viral load) to a very low level, which keeps the immune system working and prevents illness. This is called viral suppression—defined as having less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood. HIV medicine can even make the viral load so low that a test can’t detect it. This is called an undetectable viral load. Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load is the best thing people with HIV can do to stay healthy. Another benefit of reducing the amount of virus in the body is that it helps prevent transmission to others through sex or syringe sharing, and from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. This is sometimes referred to as treatment as prevention.
  • Know how to correctly use condoms and be consistent in their use. Latex condoms are highly effective at preventing transmission of HIV and other STIs. “Natural” or lambskin condoms do not provide sufficient protection against HIV infection. If you or your partner is allergic to latex, polyurethane condoms are the best alternative. 
  • Talk to your sexual partner(s). Talking about sexual history, any sexual preferences, STIs, HIV, and testing can help protect you and any potential partner(s). It’s also a good way to learn more about your partner(s) and your relationship(s). 
  • Lower your risk for HIV by trying “safer” sex strategies such as:
    • Limiting the number of sex partners you have
    • Try to limit having anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV (or whose HIV status you don’t know) without using a condom or without taking medications to prevent or treat HIV.
    • For the HIV-negative partner, receptive anal sex (bottoming) is the highest-risk sexual behavior, but you can also get HIV from insertive anal sex (topping).
    • Either partner can get HIV through vaginal sex, though it is less risky for getting HIV than receptive anal sex.
  • Avoid sharing any of your needles or injection equipment with other people. It is also recommended that you use a new needle and injection equipment (spoons, caps, cotton, etc.) every time you inject. For new needles, equipment, and containers to safely dispose of syringes, please know that we have a needle exchange service available at our Harkle location. You can also visit one of New Mexico’s other syringe exchange sites: http://nmhealth.org/idb/documents/NMDOH-IDB-HarmReduction-List-SyringeProviderSites.pdf.
    If you cannot access a syringe exchange site, syringes can be purchased over the counter at a pharmacy without a prescription.

Rapid HIV Testing Through Southwest Care Center

Get your results in just 10 minutes. Rapid HIV testing is available in Santa Fe and Albuquerque at our Harkle and Jefferson locations.

To discuss how you can protect yourself from HIV infection, please make an appointment for HIV testing with one of our trained testing counselors by calling 855-BTR-2KNW or schedule your test online now.

Es Mejor Saber

Es Mejor Saber (It’s Better to Know) is an award-winning bilingual HIV and hepatitis C prevention campaign which focuses on the importance of testing for the Latino/Hispano population of New Mexico.

The intent of the program is to provide rapid HIV and HCV testing in order to reach those who are positive before their illness becomes life threatening, engage them in treatment and educate them on measures to prevent transmission. Learn more about Es Mejor Saber.