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Stay HIV negative with PrEP

HIV PrEPWhat is PrEP and how does it help?

For the many people at risk for HIV, preventing infection matters. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, reduces your risk of contracting HIV. Those who are possibly at risk and may wish to consider this treatment may include:

  • Those with sexual partners of unknown HIV status
  • Anyone involved with someone who’s HIV-positive
  • Sexually active people who don’t consistently use condoms
  • Needle-sharers of any type

PrEP can reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent. For best results, take PrEP every day, as directed.

How to get PrEP

Because PrEP is a prescription drug, you will need to have it prescribed by a healthcare provider.

We recommend going to a provider with whom you feel comfortable discussing intimate matters. When it comes to your sexual health, open communication is vital.

Your healthcare provider will ask you a series of questions about your habits to determine if PrEP is right for you. If PrEP is not right for you, your provider may discuss alternative prevention methods with you.

Before prescribing PrEP, your provider must administer an HIV test to verify that you are HIV-negative. Your provider may also test your liver function, for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and/or Hepatitis B.

Taking PrEP

Take PrEP as directed by your provider. Stopping or skipping doses could reduce PrEP’s effectiveness or leave you entirely unprotected. If you are thinking about stopping PrEP, discuss it with your provider first. To prevent negative drug interactions, tell your provider about any other medications you are taking.

You might experience side effects, with some of the most serious being lactic acidosis, renal impairment or liver toxicity. Contact your health care provider immediately if you have any questions or concerns about your course of treatment.

Getting PrEP

If you are concerned about minimizing your exposure to HIV, Innovative Express Care can help. We offer access to PrEP as one of our many comprehensive STD services for patients in the Chicago area. We prescribe the once-a-day Truvada for three months, and we have you come back for evaluation, STD check, and to make sure you are doing well on the medication. You can make your appointment online, seven days a week. We even have same-day availability. Why wait? A 90 percent reduction in transmission of HIV is a scientific breakthrough. Let Innovative Express Care help you today.

Treat Cold Sore Symptoms

 

cold soreMany people think they contracted cold sores by kissing one frog too many. In reality, more than 90 percent of the human race carry the virus that causes cold sores, or herpes simplex 1, so you may well have contracted it by kissing your grandmother or close friend. (Ew.) Every doctor’s office sees its fair share of cold sores; they are very common and can be annoying and painful, but they will heal over time. We are not talking about genital herpes (herpes simplex 2), which we will write about in the future. We are also not talking about genital warts.

Treating your symptoms

Medical treatments can’t “cure” the herpes simplex virus, which lies dormant in your body after you’ve contracted it. Consequently, since they are symptoms of the virus, you can’t cure the sores, either. You can, however, treat the symptoms by relieving the pain and shortening the duration of time it takes for your body to heal. We suggest using medications prescribed by doctors to get rid of your cold sores for best results. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help minimize the pain and length of symptoms.

First-time sufferers

If this is your first outbreak, your symptoms will probably be more severe than any future bouts. You may experience a slight fever, headache and some overall aches and pains. Standard over-the-counter pain relievers will help you feel better while you wait for your movie-star smile to return.

Pain reduction solutions

For subsequent herpes events, we also advise taking these simple over-the-counter pain relievers.

For a more topical solution on the blister itself, these remedies may prove beneficial:

  • Ice: A quick and readily accessible option to immediately reduce pain and swelling. Apply it directly to the sore.
  • Lemon balm: This healing herb may speed up healing as well as prevent future sores. You can find lip balm that contains at least one percent lemon balm extract, or make a tea with the herb itself and dab the sore with a cloth infused with the liquid.
  • Zinc oxide: When applied within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, this cream-based medicine can reduce the extent of the outbreak as well as reduce the itching and soreness.

Medication solutions

There are also prescriptions available that may speed the healing process. If it’s appropriate, your Innovative Express Care professional will prescribe one of these four medications for your herpes outbreak: Valtrex or Acyclovir. These have medically been shown to decrease the length of symptoms.

You may have a preference for the way you take medications, so be sure to tell us that when we discuss your medical options. Your cold sore will go away, and with proper treatment, it won’t cause too much pain as it does. A beautiful smile is in your future.

Image Source: Anthony Kelly

What’s the difference? Herpes Type 1 and Type 2

HerpesHerpes?

You hear the word “herpes” and it triggers all kinds of emotions because there is a stigma associated with the std & virus. Then to learn there are two types of herpes? Yikes, how do you know which it is and what to do? Here’s the scoop on how patients get the virus and how it’s treated.

One or two?

When you first notice a nasty outbreak of blisters or sores, all you know is that it’s painful. Herpes type 1 is categorized as HSV-1 or oral herpes, typically seen on the lips and mouth. People refer to the outbreaks as cold sores or fever blisters. HSV-2 is usually below the belt, around the genitals or rectum.

The big difference

So you’re probably thinking one kind of herpes shouts “sexually transmitted disease!” in large font, and the other doesn’t. Well, yes, but the true difference between the two types is the risk of recurrence.

Sometimes HSV-1 will pop up in the genital area, and there are also cases of HSV-2 occurring on the mouth. When this happens, the outbreaks don’t usually repeat, because the virus typically thrives only in its native habitat. Once it visits above or below the belt, it has been there and done that.

But if a patient has oral HSV-1, he or she may have another outbreak or, sorry to say, get outbreaks several times a year. Just know that there are prescription medications that can make the HSV-1 oral herpes go away within 2 days. There are also medications to decrease the length of symptoms for HSV-2 (genital herpes), so it is important to see a doctor quickly.

What to do if you think you have herpes

Click here to book an appointment at Innovative Express Care. While herpes is a virus and cannot be cured, it is important to get a proper diagnosis and get treatment for the painful and itchy outbreak. And although herpes isn’t a major health risk, it can be a dangerous infection in newborns. Thus, pregnant women who think they might be infected should be tested.

Photo Source: Gabriel Herrera

STDs: The big bad appointment and why it actually isn’t that bad

STD TreatmentColumbus, Napoleon, Beethoven. What do all these famous bros have in common, other than taking up space in your useless high school history textbooks? They all carried—and likely passed on—sexually transmitted diseases.

As long as people have been around, there have been STDs. Thought to have been carried around the world by ancient explorers, (Columbus, we’re looking at you here) these diseases occur in all cultures and all countries today. Most are easy to cure, but failing to get treatment within a reasonable time period can result in long-term, life-changing consequences.

We are prepared to care for you

At Innovative Express Care, we see patients suffering from these conditions all the time. No, really. While many people try to keep their personal histories private, your Innovative Express Care doctor is the one person with whom you can—and should—share all the details of your STD concerns, including how you may have contracted the condition and what your symptoms are. We promise that you won’t feel judged or criticized, just cared for with the dignity and respect you deserve.

Be prepared for your appointment with us

For the medical professionals at Innovative Express Care to provide you with our best services, we will need to understand where and when you may have contracted an STD, and the symptoms from which you are suffering.

Often, it is helpful for both doctor and patient if you write down your symptoms before you come in. Include the date when you first became aware that something was amiss, and the initial symptoms that caught your attention. Also, include on the list all the medications you may be taking for any reason.

Itching, oozing or a general nasty discharge may gross you out, but our doctors have seen it all. We’re here to help and need you to be totally honest with us. Don’t hold back.

With your list in hand, we can identify the specific disease with which you are infected and look for medicinal options that won’t conflict with your current prescriptions. 

Talking to your doctor will ease your mind

Many people become unnecessarily concerned about their futures once they receive an STD diagnosis. An STD doesn’t mean your dating life is over; it’s just on a short break, like House of Cards. The doctors at Innovative Express Care will inform you of the strain of STD that is affecting you, how and when it was transmitted and how to care for yourself while the medications cure you of the disease. They can also discuss how to talk to your partner about your condition, and how to prevent yourself and others from getting the disease in the future. They cannot, however, actually conduct that conversation for you. Not even for an extra fee.

Other issues appropriate to discuss with your Innovative Express Care physician during your visit include whether your current condition could affect a future pregnancy or how to avoid getting the same disease or a different STD in the future.

And we can’t say it enough, so we’ll tell you again: practice safe sex in the future. You don’t want to be back in the office again in a few months, do you? We know the free Diet Cokes are awesome and all, but probably not worth a repeat visit. 

We provide immediate, confidential health care services

Listen, things happen. We get it. It’s not necessary to be embarrassed or ashamed of contracting an STD. At Innovative Express Care, we treat these conditions regularly. Our urgent care service gets you into the doctor’s office quickly so you can get started on a treatment plan as soon as possible, and get back to living your full and happy life. A life where you’re practicing safer sex, right?

Don’t have insurance or don’t want to use insurance? Click here to find out costs up front.

Photo Source: Wyatt Fisher

Genital Warts

Genital Warts

Genital warts are a scary subject. It brings up fear, regret, and sadness. The issue, however, should not cause these emotions. Innovative Express Care will let you know how people get them and how to treat them.

What Causes Genital Warts and How Do People Get Them?

Unfortunately, these are caused by one of the Human Papilloma Virus (aka HPV). There are more than 100 types of HPV. Yes, there are high-risk types of HPV and some of these do cause genital warts. HPV is transferred from one person to another by skin-to-skin contact. You can get genital warts despite using a condom (it’s scary).

Are Genital Warts Dangerous? Will They Cause Cancer?

Many people worry that their genital warts will cause cancer, but here’s the deal: The HPV that causes genital warts is different than the HPV that causes cancer (cervical and other types). That being said, if you have gotten genital warts/HPV then you are at risk at getting the high-risk HPV? So, for women, it’s best to get your Pap Smears as recommended by your doctor and for both men and women, it’s best to get an HPV vaccines as recommended by your doctor.

How Are Genital Warts Spread?

Skin-to-skin contact during sexual or oral intercourse.

How Are Genital Warts Treated?

There are multiple ways to treat genital warts, but I will tell you the best two ways:

Liquid Nitrogen (aka Cryotherapy)

If you have less than 5 warts, I would recommend Cryotherapy, which is freezing them off. This is NOT painful, and takes less than 5 minutes in the office. This can get rid of the warts in up to 3-4 days, however sometimes I have patients return in 2 weeks for a 2nd treatment, just to make sure they are totally gone.

Imiquimod

This is an immune system stimulant that helps get rid of the virus. It is expensive and takes 3 months to work (this is why I do not recommend it as a 1st line treatment)

What Should You Do If You Have Genital Warts?

Click here to book an appointment at Innovative Express Care. Do not waste your time and money at the pharmacy. Get this treated promptly, and move on with your life. Genital Warts happen to many people, get the right treatment now.

Image Source: Amy Moss