HRC Blog

Take the Test, Take Control

This post comes from Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute.

Today, June 27th, is National HIV Testing Day.  The theme of this year’s observance, “Take the Test, Take Control”, reminds all of us the importance of taking a very simple test can help control your destiny.

Knowing ones HIV status not only benefits the individual so that they can be linked to proper care and treatment, but it helps in preventing HIV as the person who knows they are HIV positive will likely takes steps that will lessen the risk of transmitting the virus to others.

With treatment options available now that keep people with HIV/AIDS healthy and live long lives, the benefits of treatment will be more successful if one is diagnosed early.  It is estimated that 20 percent of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. are not aware of their infection; that translates into about 240,000 people. And, one-third of the people diagnosed with HIV develop AIDS with-in one year, meaning they are being diagnosed too late for the medications to work optimally. Knowing ones HIV status not only helps the individual be linked to care and treatment, but helps prevent the spread of HIV.  The 20 percent of the people who are undiagnosed with HIV are responsible for well over 50 percent of all new infections.  Research also shows that when someone is on treatment, their viral load (the amount of virus in their body) is suppressed, and the risk of transmission to others is reduced.

Gay men and other men who have sex with men accounted for 59 percent of all HIV diagnosed in the U.S. in 2009 and the CDC estimates they account for over 130,000 of the people who are undiagnosed.  The CDC recommends that gay men take an HIV test at least one time a year. But, based on recent findings from some large cities where they are finding a high prevalence of HIV among some gay men who were tested within the past year, they are now saying that sexually active gay men should probably be tested every 3-6 months. So, today reminds us to “Take the Test, Take Control”.  To learn more about HIV and where you can take the test go to: hivtest.org.

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