Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Educating the Public About HIV

Today is National HIV Testing Day and AGI is working with the healthcare industry to bring awareness to getting tested. Although there is no actual cure for HIV at the moment, there is still a way to control it through prevention methods, and most of all, getting tested. In today’s society there are now more than ever different alternatives to getting tested. From your healthcare provider, a mobile clinic, testing events, local organizations, or even at home! There’s no excuse to get tested! According to the CDC, “About 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV, and 1 in 7 of them don’t know it. Young people are the most likely to be unaware of their HIV infection.” Therefore it’s important to get tested, especially, as CDC states, are more sexually active, or if you identify as a sexually active gay or bisexual men.  Knowing your HIV status is not only important, but it’s also breaking the stigma from HIV testing as well as support from peers and family. A lot of times, people refuse to get tested in fear that they may be judged by sexuality, drug abuse, gender, sex work, or simply for having HIV/AIDS. In supporting local and international HIV testing events, AGI is hoping to help break these stereotypes and help bring both national and international awareness on HIV testing.

                HIV is transmitted via sexual activity or through sharing needle or syringes. According to CDC, HIV can live in used needles from up to 42 days of being used! Although sexual activity and needles and syringes are the main source of spreading HIV in the U.S. there are other ways HIV is spread, even through infancy. For example, women who have HIV and are pregnant may infect their child, if they’re not taking medication. The risk of HIV is also higher if you have an STD. According to the CDC, you should get tested if:

º You’re a sexually active gay or bisexual man.
º You’ve had sex with an HIV-positive partner.
º You’ve had more than one partner since your last HIV test.
º You’ve shared needles or works to inject drugs.
º You’ve exchanged sex for drugs or money.
º You have another sexually transmitted disease, hepatitis,
or tuberculosis.
º You’ve had sex with anyone who has done anything listed above + – or with someone whose sexual history you don’t know.

There’s always a fear of testing positive, but it’s better to know in order to live a healthier life knowing, rather than keeping it a mystery. Visiting a mobile testing site or mobile clinic is the first step in becoming more aware of your health, as well as helping spread awareness on the importance of HIV testing.

                Even after testing negative for HIV, it’s always important to practice prevention methods. From abstinence, to using lubricated condoms, it’s important to speak to your local physician to find what’s best for your personal health lifestyle. Most importantly, if you do have HIV, communicating with your partner in regards to having protected sex as well having a routinely HIV testing is important. Visiting a mobile clinic is just as informative as visiting your nearest clinic as well. The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that although health facilities are more than likely to help more children, men, and people who have never been tested before, it’s mobile clinics who help communities find new HIV infections. A mobile clinic has the potential to help save someone’s life through programs that offer affordable and accessible services such as HIV testing. Receive your own personal tips with the CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction Tool here, or visit your local mobile HIV Testing center for more information!

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