When was the last time you were tested for HIV? I thought so. This is the 21st century and it’s time to get tested! Heck, get all of your friends and go get tested together on National HIV Testing Day. Take the test. Take control.
I can tell you’re resistant, so let’s play a little game and test your knowledge. The answers will be at the end of the blog. No peeking!!
True or False?
1. It is recommended that everyone between the ages of 15 and 65 get screened for HIV at least once in their lifetime.
2. Untreated HIV is almost universally fatal.
3. You can have HIV and not have any symptoms.
4. You are very likely to infect someone else during the two to four weeks right after becoming infected with HIV yourself.
5. The South has the most number of people living with HIV that other regions of the U.S.
6. Married people can become infected with HIV.
7. Women with HIV should not have children.
8. Young people, ages 13 to 24, are among the fastes growing group of new HIV infections.
9. Heterosexual men and women account for about 25-percent of new HIV infections.
Sometimes we just need to hear someone’s story in their own words. Individuals featured in Let’s Stop HIV Together have shared their stories to raise awareness, fight stigma about HIV, encourage HIV prevention and testing, and champion the power of relationships in the personal and public fight to stop HIV. These are people just like you and me.
True or False Revealed
1. It is recommended that everyone between the ages of 13 and 65 get screened for HIV at least once in their lifetime. TRUE.
The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested at least once as part of routine health care. Almost one in five people in the United States who have HIV do not know they are infected.
HIV is spread through unprotected sex and drug-injecting behaviors (plus mother to child), so people who engage in these behaviors should get tested more often. If you can answer “Yes” to any of these questions, you need to get tested more often.
- Have you had unprotected sex (sex without a condom)—anal, vaginal, or oral—with men who have sex with men or with multiple partners since your last HIV test?
- Have you injected drugs (including steroids, hormones, or silicone) and shared equipment (or works, such as needles and syringes) with others?
- Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
- Have you been diagnosed with or sought treatment for hepatitis, tuberculosis (TB), or asexually transmitted infection (STI), like syphilis?
- Have you had unprotected sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions or someone whose history you don’t know?
You should also get tested if
- You have been sexually assaulted.
- You are a woman who is planning to get pregnant or who is pregnant.
2. Untreated HIV is almost universally fatal. TRUE.
HIV disease has a well-documented progression. Untreated, HIV is almost universally fatal because it eventually overwhelms the immune system—resulting in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV treatment helps people at all stages of the disease, and treatment can slow or prevent progression from one stage to the next. That’s why it is so important to know your status!
3. You can have HIV and not have any symptoms. TRUE.
The only way to know if you are infected with HIV is to be tested. You cannot rely on symptoms to know whether you have HIV. Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms at all for 10 years or more.
4. You are very likely to infect someone else during the two to four weeks right after becoming infected with HIV yourself. TRUE.
Within 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV, large amounts of HIV are being produced in your body. Your ability to spread HIV is highest during this stage because the amount of virus in the blood is very high. And most people do not even know they are infected.
5. The South has the most number of people living with HIV than other regions of the U.S. TRUE.
So much for abstinence, monogamy, and the resisting sexual sin our bible-belt brethren espouse.
6. Married people can become infected with HIV. TRUE.
Now if you’re married AND monogamous AND you both tested negative for HIV, then you’re not in any risk category. However, if you or your spouse has been sexually active with another, whether male or female (I know, TMI, but reality is reality), then you need to get tested.
7. Women with HIV should not have children. FALSE.
HIV testing is recommended for all pregnant women. Pregnant women who test positive for HIV have many options to stay healthy and protect their babies from becoming HIV infected.
8. Young people, ages 13 to 24, are among the fastes growing group of new HIV infections. TRUE.
Young people, aged 13-24 are especially affected by HIV. They comprise 16% of the US population, but account for 26% of all new HIV infections in 2010 (most recent statistics). Half of high school students report having had sex, but CDC data show that only 13 percent have ever been tested for HIV.
9. Heterosexual men and women account for about 25-percent of new HIV infections. TRUE.
- Heterosexuals: 25%
- Men having sex with men (MSM): 63%
- Injection drug use (IDU): 8%
- MSM and IDU: 3%
Take the test. Take control.