I’m writing this post on National HIV Testing Day, June 27. While many communities have organized publicity efforts on this day to encourage testing for HIV, the real goal is to have people get tested so they can know their HIV status.
It’s estimated that 1 in 5 who have HIV do not know they have it! That means that, not only are they not receiving life-extending treatment, they may be unknowingly spreading the virus to other partners.
Here are some other interesting facts:
- The number of people living with HIV has risen every year because new infections have remained relatively stable and survival has increased due to improvements in antiretroviral therapy and access to care.
- Each HIV infection averted saves an estimated $367,000 (2009 dollars) in lifetime medical costs.
- The proportion of Americans who rate HIV as the most urgent health problem for the nation has reduced from 44% in 1995 to 6% in 2009. Yet, the number of Americans with HIV has increased.
- More than half of American adults have never been tested for HIV. Yet, testing is the essential element for HIV prevention and treatment. When we do not know our status, we cannot access HIV-specific care, including antiretroviral treatment and other supportive services.
- Testing sites can be located at www.hivtest.org. They will have listings for FREE, confidential HIV blood tests.
I remember the first time I was tested. Dr. Gordon had suggested I get tested since I was regularly exposed to all kinds of bodily fluids and assisting with autopsies where all kinds of matter was airborne. I was hesitant just like everyone else! Did I really want to know?
I was also doing HIV/AIDS education and wasn’t having much luck convincing people to be tested. So, I set a date that I was going to be tested and invited people to join me. Twenty-seven people showed up!
I’ve been tested many times since, the latest was in September when I donated my own blood for a surgery I was having. Personally, I think testing should be a routine part of healthcare. We don’t think twice about routine mammograms or cholesterol checks. It’s time to take responsibility for our own health and think of HIV testing just like we think of other screenings…especially now.
HIV may not be curable, but it is very treatable. People do not die from HIV and most no longer die from AIDS. It’s time to know.