Northwest Colorado Health: Test, prevent, treat |

Northwest Colorado Health: Test, prevent, treat

Tamera Manzanares
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

National HIV Testing Day on Thursday, June 27, encourages people to get tested, know their HIV status and take steps to prevent or treat the virus. This message is more powerful than ever thanks to medications used to prevent and treat HIV.

HIV attacks the body’s immune system. Untreated, it progresses to AIDS, the most severe stage of infection when a person’s immune system can no longer fight illness. HIV spreads through certain body fluids — people most often get it through sexual behaviors and needle or syringe use. A pregnant woman also can pass the virus to her child.

One in seven people who have HIV do not know they are living with the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once as part of routine health care. Some individuals may need to be tested more frequently.

Most health insurance covers HIV screening. People who don’t have insurance can get tested for free at Northwest Colorado Health’s clinics in Steamboat Springs and Craig.

All individuals should discuss their risk for HIV with a health care provider. Learn more about risk factors at   

Condoms are highly effective at preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. If a person has a particularly high risk of getting HIV, a health care provider may also recommend pre-exposure prophylaxis — or PrEP — a medication that significantly reduces a person’s chance of getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. PrEP is only for HIV; it does not prevent other sexually transmitted infections.

Individuals who think they may have been exposed to HIV should contact a health care provider as soon as possible to determine if they need post-exposure prophylaxis — or PEP. If started within 72 hours, PEP medication can prevent the virus from taking hold.

It’s important victims of sexual assault talk to their health care provider or emergency room doctor about PEP. People prescribed PEP following a sexual assault may qualify for partial or total reimbursement for the medicine and clinical care costs through the Office for Victims of Crime.

If a person tests positive for HIV, they can begin antiretroviral therapy. If taken every day, exactly as prescribed, this medication can reduce viral load — the amount of HIV in a person’s blood. This keeps the virus from growing and helps prevent a person from transmitting it to a sexual partner. The medication also can reduce risk of a pregnant woman passing HIV to her child.

To make an appointment for a free HIV test or to discuss HIV risk, prevention medications or treatment with a health care provider, call 970-879-1632 in Steamboat Springs or 970-824-8233 in Craig.  

This article includes information from

Tamera Manzanares is Marketing Coordinator at the Northwest Colorado Health. She can be reached at or 970-871-7642.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User