Across the world, nearly 38 million people are living with HIV. However, 1 in 5 of them are unaware that they have the virus. That’s why each year, on June 27th, we observe “National HIV Testing Day” to raise awareness about the importance of getting tested for HIV. Continue reading for information on why, who should, and how to get tested.
Why Get Tested?
In 2018, 770,000 people died from HIV-related complications globally. However, effective treatment for HIV exists. With the consistent use of anti-retroviral therapy (ART), individuals can avoid HIV-related cancers, infections, and death. HIV treatment also reduces individuals’ viral load, making them much less likely to spread HIV to their sexual partners. Furthermore, HIV treatment reduces the risk of transmitting HIV during and after childbirth. The sooner you get tested, the sooner you can start reaping the benefits of effective HIV treatment (or stop worrying about HIV if you test negative).
Who Should Get Tested?
If you are between the ages of 13 to 64, and have never before been tested for HIV, then the CDC says yes. Anyone aged 13-64 should get tested at least once. Additionally, those with certain risk factors should get tested for HIV more regularly. Risk factors include having unprotected sex, using injection drugs, or being diagnosed with another sexually transmitted infection (e.g., syphilis, herpes, chlamydia).
How To Get Tested
You can visit your local doctor’s office, health clinic, health department, family planning clinic, or STD clinic to get an HIV test. Other testing locations include substance use disorder treatment facilities, pharmacies, and community organizations. While some locations offer free HIV testing, anyone with health insurance can get tested without paying a co-pay. To find a testing site near you, you can:
- Visit www.gettested.cdc.gov
- Call 1-800-232-4636, or
- Text your ZIP code to 566948
Especially on National HIV Testing Day 2020, at-home HIV testing is an appealing testing option. HIV self-testing allows individuals to avoid COVID-19 exposure, while also taking their test and receiving their results in a private and comfortable location. The FDA recently approved OraQuick, an at-home HIV test that uses an oral swab (no blood) and provides results in only 20 minutes. For more information on this HIV self-testing option, visit the OraQuick website here.
1 in 5 people living with HIV don’t know it. You can protect yourself and others by getting tested and learning your HIV status. Even if you aren’t at risk for HIV, everyone should get tested for HIV at least once in their life. Testing options include free and low-cost services by health care organizations, as well as at-home self-testing. We hope you’ll observe National HIV Testing Day by scheduling or purchasing an HIV test today!
Avert. (2020, February 18). Global HIV and AIDS statistics. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://www.avert.org/global-hiv-and-aids-statistics
Mayo Clinic. (2020, January 10). HIV Testing. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hiv-testing/about/pac-20385018
Minority HIV/AIDS Fund. (2020, June 18). Who Should Get Tested? Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/hiv-testing/learn-about-hiv-testing/who-should-get-tested
World Health Organization. (2020, May 19). Number of deaths due to HIV. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://www.who.int/gho/hiv/epidemic_status/deaths/en/