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Commentary & Opinion

Reflections on National HIV Testing Day

June 28, 2011

"... My first introduction to HIV disease was in 1985 when the first test to detect HIV antibodies became available, and I began notifying blood donors in New York City of their positive results. There was no treatment then; many people were diagnosed in the late stages of AIDS and many died. Today that is not the case. We have seen a rapid progression of treatment from the early days of AZT to the combination therapies we see today. ...

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"But in order to know to take this lifesaving and life-prolonging treatment, one has to know his/her HIV status. And to do that, one must be tested, and today is National HIV Testing Day. ...

"What is so critical about being tested for HIV? ... When started on medication, progression of the virus is dramatically reduced. It will also help prevent others from becoming infected because approximately 20 percent of individuals are unaware of being infected with HIV and may unknowingly infect others through risky behavior.

"Data show that people who know they are infected with HIV are far less likely to transmit the infection to others than those who don't know their HIV status. ...

"So why is this lifesaving test not a routine part of health care? There are many reasons. Stigma and fear of rejection and/or discrimination are predominant ones. ... Complacency is another factor. ...

"Knowing one's HIV status and the status of one's sexual partner is critical to avoiding becoming infected or transmitting the virus to others. The best way to eradicate this virus is to prevent infection. Talk to your family and friends about the importance of being tested for HIV. Be a power of example and get tested for HIV. ..."

The author is executive director of AIDSNET in Bethlehem, Pa.

Back to other news for June 2011

Adapted from:
Morning Call (Allentown, PA)
06.27.2011; Ann Stuart Thacker


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
U.S. National HIV Testing Day
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