(RxWiki News) People in the high risk group for contracting HIV, which includes gay men, substance abusers, bisexual men and those with multiple sex partners should test once a year and always use condoms, especially when multiple partners are involved.
Nearly every 10 minutes, a new person is infected with HIV in the United States, and routine HIV testing is central to ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Over 20 percent of those with an HIV infection are unaware of it.
National HIV Testing Day was initiated in 1995 by the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) in response to the steady growth of HIV and to promote awareness of the disease. Now, along with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the groups are once again encouraging everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 years to be tested for HIV at least once.
"Get tested for HIV infection now."
Knowing one's HIV status is essential for an individual's health as well as for the community's health. When someone is diagnosed with HIV they can begin the process of treatment, which includes initiating counseling and informing sexual partners about their status. When someone knows they are infected with HIV, their sexual activities also become more responsible. This impacts public health positively.
There is also a growing body of research that suggests people infected with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy not only protect their health, but are less likely to pass on the disease to their sexual partners.
In collaboration with Center for Disease Control (CDC) and community health departments, NIAID will study the feasibility of expanding HIV testing by providing accessible testing and immediate treatment.
Expanded HIV testing initiatives seem to be having some positive impact, but far too many new people are getting infected with HIV. While the rate of new infections has remained stable since the late 1990s at 56,000 a year, people living with the disease is higher than ever, estimated at more than 1 million adults and adolescents.
HIV infection doesn't grab headlines as it did during the frightening early days in the 1980s, but it is still a serious, incurable infection that can lead to AIDS. The earlier the diagnosis of the HIV infection, the better opportunity a person has to be treated with antiretroviral drugs and achieve the best outcome possible.
HIV testing has a stigma attached to it for many. On National HIV Testing Day, NAPWA is trying to remove the obstacles associated with testing and highlight how important it is. To find a testing center, visit AIDSinfo and AIDS.gov.