National HIV Testing Day 2012
by Arturo Valencia
The National HIV Testing Day, organized annually by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) with support from CDC and AIDS.gov, is a day to promote HIV-testing and early diagnosis of HIV across the United States.
The CDC estimates that nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States. Approximately one in five of those are unaware that they carry the virus that causes AIDS.
Evidence that effective early antiviral treatment is not only good for patients but also makes their infection less contagious underscores that finding persons with HIV infection is good, both for people living with HIV infection and for public health. HIV testing identifies persons living with HIV, counseling supports them to access medical care that can improve the quality and length of their lives and reduce risk for HIV transmission to others.
The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV, at least once in their lifetime, and those at increased risk should be tested at least annually. Testing is an essential first step to link persons with HIV infection to medical care and ongoing support to improve their health and help them maintain safer behaviors. The CDC also recommends that pregnant women get tested early in their pregnancy so steps can be taken that will prevent transmission of HIV to their babies.
When AIDS was first recognized 30 years ago, gay and bisexual men taking the HIV test had to wait a week to get their results. Today it only takes 20 minutes to find out your HIV test result. An HIV test counselor will walk you though the process with no embarrassing questions and just collecting demographic data CDC needs to support their ongoing research.
Some people believe that during a medical appointment, the doctor will screen their blood for “everything.” A patient needs to verbally ask their doctor for an HIV test. HIV testing is not included in a physical exam unless you ask for it.
The National HIV Testing Day is the best opportunity to get tested. A variety of free testing events will be made available throughout the country — in community centers, mobile vans, places of worship and other venues.
Take control, take the test. Find a place to get tested in your community at www.hivtest.org or text your zip code to KNOW IT, that’s 5-6-6-9-4-8.