Today is National HIV Testing Day -- a day when we emphasize the importance of knowing your HIV status. In the U.S., the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV, but one out of eight are not diagnosed. That's 150,000 people who do not know they're living with HIV and who are not receiving the care and treatment they need.
Knowing your status so you can act on it -- whether you're negative and taking steps to remain negative, or positive and seeking treatment, which can in turn prevent new transmissions -- is part of why HIV testing remains important to this day. Here's what the community is saying on HIV Testing Day about the importance of testing, prevention, treatment, and care.
HIV Organizations React
From The AIDS Institute:
Learning one's status through HIV testing is a necessary first step toward connecting with care and treatment. "We know that if a person tests positive for HIV through a simple test and is then linked to HIV treatment, they can live a relatively healthy and long life," said Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. "Additionally, effective treatment will likely lead to viral suppression, which make its almost impossible to transmit the virus to others, therefore, helping prevent future infections."
"On a day when we recognize the importance of HIV testing, we cannot overlook the fact that the Administration is proposing to severely cut the budget of CDC, which not only funds millions of HIV tests a year, but also sets testing standards and guidelines for health care providers and public health professionals. In order to prevent HIV, we need to make sure that federal programs that support testing are fully funded," said Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute.
From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested at least once as part of routine health care. Some people are more at risk of getting HIV than others and should be tested at least once a year. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months). CDC's HIV testing guidelines for clinical and nonclinical settings provide comprehensive information on who needs HIV testing and how often they need it.
On June 27th, HIV testing events will occur across the country in clinical and nonclinical settings. We hope you are planning to participate. Thank you for your part in making this day a success. We look forward to continuing our strong collaboration in our work to stop HIV.
This year's NHTD theme -- Test Your Way. Do It Today. -- reflects that there are several ways you can be tested for HIV, depending on where you take the test. Our HIV Testing Overview explains how HIV testing works and what to expect when you do it.
From National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors:
If you are concerned about being able to afford an HIV test, don't worry! Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), HIV testing is covered by insurance without a copay, and if you don't have insurance, many testing centers offer free testing. To find a testing center near you, click here.
If you test negative, you can talk with a provider and decide if you need additional forms of prevention, like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) -- a daily medication used to prevent the transmission of HIV. If the test comes back as positive, remember that HIV is very manageable. Health departments, organizations, and healthcare providers offer support, care, and treatment for people living with HIV. HIV treatment has changed and your provider can prescribe you medications to help reach viral suppression. Undetectable = untransmittable, meaning that a person living with HIV who has undetectable viral loads and is durably virally suppressed does not transmit HIV. The sooner you know your status, the sooner you can be linked to care and live a long, healthy life.
Posted on Twitter by Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention:
Posted on Twitter by Human Rights Campaign:
Posted on Twitter by AIDSVu:
Posted on Twitter by AIDS United:
Posted on Twitter by Planned Parenthood:
Posted on Twitter by Rise Up to HIV:
Posted on Facebook by The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation:
Posted on Twitter by MAC AIDS Fund:
HIV Community Reactions
Posted on Twitter by activist Benjamin Di'Costa:
Posted on Twitter by TheBody.com contributor George M. Johnson:
Posted on Facebook by U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigator Cambria Cook Krueger:
Posted on Facebook by policy research analyst at the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) Preston D. Mitchum:
Posted on Facebook by My Fabulous Disease creator and TheBody.com contributor Mark S. King:
Posted on Facebook by TheBody.com blogger Maria Mejia:
Other Reactions and Analyses
From Washington, D.C., mayor Muriel Bowser:
For nine consecutive years, the District has been able to work together with the community to decrease the number of new HIV cases. We know we have more work to do, but this data is good news for our city and our residents. In just one decade, we have made tremendous progress, and today, our residents who are diagnosed with HIV are getting care faster and they are starting -- and staying on -- treatments that we know are effective.
Posted on Facebook by Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL):
Ken Stockwell is senior web producer for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.