June 27th is National HIV Testing Day

Do you have any concerns that you may have HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)? Or do you assume that you are HIV negative because you don’t fall into a high risk group.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone who is between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested for HIV at some point in their life as part of regular health care. If you are part of a high-risk group, you should be tested yearly. The high-risk group includes gay and bisexual men, those with more than 1 sex partner per year, those who have other sexually transmitted diseases, and IV drug users. In addition 1 in 7 people in the US who are HIV + do not know it.

According to the National Institute of Health, HIV is spread through the blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids and breast milk of someone that has it. You cannot get it by hugging someone who has it, from a doorknob, or toilet seat.

Why people don’t get tested

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), those with the infection might not get tested because they think that they are not at risk (especially young people). They also may have a fear of being judged, feeling that health care workers are not helpful, or they might not have access to clinics where they can get tested.

Some people fear that may have come in contact with HIV, yet choose to stick their head in the sand. They would rather avoid the situation than know for sure. They are afraid of the diagnosis. Obviously, avoiding the situation won’t make it go away. It can only make things worse. If you have it, there are medications you can take to prevent full-blown AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Not only will you need medical treatment, but psychological treatment may also be helpful.

Difference between HIV and AIDS

Some people may think that HIV and AIDS are the same things. However, these two diagnoses are very different. HIV is a virus and has no symptoms. It is the virus that causes AIDS. Those with HIV may have a healthy immune system. It can stay that way a long time if treated. However, it can lead to AIDS if you do not treat it.

As the HIV infection progresses, it attacks T cells in the body, which are responsible for your immune system. Thus if you don’t treat it you are more likely to get infections and some cancers, as your body can’t fight them off.

HIV is no longer a death sentence as it was in the past. It can be kept under control with medications, which keep you healthy and may prevent the spread of it to others. The treatment is ART (Antiretroviral Therapy). It is a treatment that needs to be done daily. It won’t get rid of the AIDS but it will slow down the progression. The sooner you start the treatment, the better chance you have that your HIV may never turn into AIDS. Click this link to Test your knowledge of AIDS.

Where to get tested

Gettested.cdc.gov

Text your zip code to KNOW IT (566948)

Call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)

If you or someone you know is (or you fear is) infected and need someone to talk to, please call me at 713-304-6554.

Take care,

Debbie