On National HIV Testing Day, Level Up Your Self-Love by Checking Your Status

Content From: Kristin Roha, MSc, MPH, Public Health Advisor, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Office of the Chief Medical Officer, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services AdministrationPublished: June 27, 20243 min read


Cross-posted from: SAMHSA

Three people talking, featuring text that says “National HIV Testing Day.”

On June 27 each year, HHS observes National HIV Testing Day, a day that reminds everyone to get tested for HIV, know your status, and get linked to care and treatment. This year’s theme is “Level up your self-love: check your status,” a theme that emphasizes getting an HIV test as one way to show yourself compassion and respect and honor your health needs. Getting an HIV test is an important step in honoring your health: people who test positive can be linked to lifesaving treatment; people who test negative for HIV can be linked to prevention interventions such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).

SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes. People with mental illness and/or substance use disorder (SUD) are at increased risk of getting and transmitting HIV. However, people living with HIV with an SUD often delay initiating HIV testing and treatment (PDF, 773 KB). SAMHSA’s grant recipients often are the first step into the health care system for people who are at risk for or living with HIV. SUD treatment programs need to be well-equipped to provide HIV risk assessments, testing, counseling, and linkage to HIV care providers. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. Some people should get tested more often, including people who have shared needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment such as cookers, and people who have exchanged sex for drugs or money.

SAMHSA has long encouraged (PDF, 217 KB) grant recipients to incorporate HIV testing into grant activities, and it is a required activity for many grant programs that work with people at risk for or living with HIV. However, you do not need to go to a healthcare provider to receive HIV testing. Visit Together TakeMeHomeExit Disclaimer to request a free HIV self-test. Self-tests are a fast and private way to test for HIV that can be used anywhere and at any time. Today, over 500 Walgreens stores with over 350 testing partners in 44 states as well as DC and Puerto Rico are providing free rapid HIV and STD testing (syphilis and Hepatitis C). No appointment is needed. Find a participating location near youExit Disclaimer. This information is also available en EspañolExit Disclaimer. If you, or someone you know, is seeking help for substance use or mental illness, SAMHSA’s FindSupport.gov is an online guide that helps answer common questions for people who are at the start of their journey to address mental health, drug and alcohol issues. FindSupport.gov is now available en Español. If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available; call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.orgExit Disclaimer.

SAMHSA encourages everyone, but especially those with mental health and substance use conditions, to use this day as an opportunity to get tested for HIV as the first step to lifelong health.