June 27th is National HIV Testing Day. Testing is the only way of knowing whether or not you have HIV. Take the opportunity to learn more about the importance of HIV testing, get tested, and help encourage testing.
What is HIV?
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the body’s immune system. HIV destroys CD4 cells – or T cells – and diminishes the body’s ability to fight off infections or diseases.
The longer HIV goes untreated, the more T cells the virus destroys, and the harder it is for the body to defend itself from disease. If left untreated HIV can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
The body cannot get rid of HIV, and there is no cure for HIV. Once you have it, you have it for life. HIV can be managed, however, and the earlier that it’s detected the easier it is to manage the virus. This is why it’s so important to test for HIV.
Who should get tested for HIV?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once. According to the CDC, 1 in 7 Americans with HIV don’t know that they have it.
Women who are pregnant should get HIV testing to decrease the risk of perinatal (or mother-to-child) HIV transmission.
Some people are at a higher risk for HIV than others. Those at a higher risk should get tested more often.
Why should I get tested for HIV?
There is no vaccination for HIV. Using drugs or having sex increases your risk for HIV. Knowing your HIV status helps you take the right steps towards health care and treatment services. It also helps keep you and your partner healthy and safe.
If you test positive for HIV, talk to your doctor about taking medicine to treat HIV. This can help you stay healthy and reduce the risk for transmitting HIV to your partner.
If your test results are negative, be sure to take preventive measures to decrease your risk of HIV.
Talk to your health care provider about HIV testing options.