Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 27, is National HIV Testing Day in the United States. On this date, everyone – no matter their age, gender, race, ethnicity or gender attraction – is encouraged by the U.S. Public Health Service, private health care providers and practitioners and HIV/AIDS service organizations to get tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in order to learn their status. Knowledge is power and knowledge is empowering, especially in regards to our personal health and well-being.
National HIV Testing Day was first observed in 1995 when it was organized and sponsored by the National Association of People Living With AIDS (NAPWA). Since then, it has become an annual event and is now sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Public Health Service and the AIDS. gov program.
In this country alone, of the estimated 1.3 million people living with HIV, health officials expect that one in eight are unaware that they are infected and are indeed transmitting the virus to others. On this date, many commercial pharmacies and most public health clinics are offering free testing to the general public. To find a local free testing site, click on the link provided below to access their map.
Taking a HIV test is the initial step in learning if an individual is infected with the virus that causes AIDS. If someone has HIV, seeking medical help and following medication guidelines can improve the quality and longevity of life and reduces the risk of possibly infecting others. There are counseling services and other resources available for persons with HIV often at little or no cost.
Despite the widespread public panic and confusion that occurred when the virus first appeared in the USA in 1981, there are now federal (national) laws that protect persons living with HIV from discrimination. In 2017, the public is more knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS and the medical profession is more sensitive to personal needs of those infected and more compassionate and understanding in their response.
Most people now realize that HIV is not an exclusively gay disease and it’s not who we are but rather what we do that puts us at risk for HIV infection. However, there are some people who cannot let go of certain myths and stereotypes surrounding HIV/AIDS. That’s the reason it is important that we understand the basics of HIV infection and use these facts when discussing this disease with others.
- HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
- AIDS is a result of HIV infection.
- HIV is not transmitted through everyday, casual contact.
- HIV is determined by testing. Only a physician can diagnose AIDS.
Last month (May, 2017) I was in Norfolk, Virginia at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, in training for certification in Rapid Testing for HIV. This multi-day seminar was for an AIDS service organization where I am a volunteer. I am now certified to both test and to counsel those desiring to be tested. It is yet another step in my combatting this disease. I strongly encourage everyone reading here to take advantage of the many opportunities offered nationwide to take the test on National HIV Testing Day.
For additional information on National HIV Testing Day, please click on the link provided below: