We have the tools to end new cases of HIV in Western North Carolina. The first step is to start a conversation about what HIV is and what prevention measures can be taken to protect yourself and your partners. The second step is to widen access to prevention tools like condoms, PrEP, and needle exchange programs. Finally, through education and dialogue, we must eliminate the deadly stigma that still accompanies HIV in too many communities across our nation. Zero is powerful, and it is achievable. But we need your help to get there!
Sometimes the toughest conversations are the most rewarding. The best way to educate and advocate is still friends talking to friends. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offer some great suggestions about how to start a conversation about what HIV is, what your status is, and what prevention measures you are comfortable with taking in order to protect yourself. Start talking. Who knows? It could save your life.
Condoms are still the best way to dramatically lower the risk of HIV infection, as well as other sexually transmittable infections (STIs) like herpes, hepatitis, and gonorrhea. Most condoms are made out of latex, but even if you have a latex allergy you can still use condoms made out of polyurethane and polyisoprene. Our friends at Planned Parenthood published some great facts about condoms, including that they make sex 10,000 times safer.
WNCAP distributes condoms for free out of our offices, as well as through a variety of businesses and organizations in Western North Carolina. Stop by any of these locations to pick up condoms as well as water-based lubricant, which also reduces the risk of HIV transmission. All condoms and lubricant are totally free! We just want you to be protected.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy that involves the daily use of antiretroviral medications to reduce the risk of HIV infection in HIV-negative individuals. Starting on January 1st, 2018, WNCAP’s contract pharmacy will begin providing PrEP services to its clients and their families. For more information about PrEP visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
The Needle Exchange Program of Asheville (NEPA) is designed to decrease the rate of new cases of blood-borne infections by replacing potentially contaminated syringes with sterile ones. Anyone may visit the WNCAP office at 554 Fairview Rd. in Asheville to drop off dirty needles and pick up clean ones, as well as to obtain sterile cookers, cottons, and tourniquets. The Centers for Disease Control state that syringe exchange programs are effective in bringing down new cases of HIV and viral Hepatitis.
NEPA is a judgement free space and WNCAP will never ask any questions, demand any form of ID, or accept any payment. Not only is NEPA effective as a harm reduction strategy, it offers an opportunity to educate NEPA clients about HIV and STD prevention, sexual violence resources, and drug treatment. It helps to reduce the stigma associated with drug use and elevates the public health of the entire community.
The hours of operation for the Needle Exchange Program of Asheville are 9am-5pm on Monday, Thursday, and Friday. Like WNCAP on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for NEPA updates, including when we run out of supplies and when we re-stock. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when WNCAP does not distribute needles, our friends at the Steady Collective do. On Tuesdays, you can go to Firestorm Books in West Asheville, and on Wednesdays, you can go to the Haywood Street Congregation in downtown Asheville for free syringes and naloxone.
Perhaps the most important way we Get to Zero is by ending the deadly stigma that still surrounds discussion of HIV. Your HIV status has nothing to do with who you are as a person, your morality or individual value. It is perfectly safe to have sex with someone who is HIV positive as long as proper prevention measures are taken. Check out this great website about ending HIV stigma.