ICYMI: Last week we observed National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) and today we wanted to highlight this NHTD blog from our colleague at CDC.
June 27th is National HIV Testing Day, a day to get tested for HIV and remind everyone of the importance of timely HIV diagnosis and the effectiveness of treatment and prevention. This year’s theme, Test Your Way. Do It Today., highlights the many ways to access HIV testing.
HIV testing is the gateway to HIV prevention and care. People who test negative have more prevention tools available today than ever before so they can stay negative. People who test positive can take HIV treatment to stay healthy for many years and greatly reduce their chance of passing HIV to others.
Recently, CDC announced that the estimated number of annual HIV infections [PDF, 110KB] in the United States declined by 18% between 2008 and 2014, representing 33,000 fewer people infected with HIV and saving an estimated $15 billion in lifetime medical care costs. This is excellent news. But we still have a lot of work to do. About 15% of the 1.1 million people living with HIV do not know they have it. More than 90% of new HIV infections in the United States could be prevented if we diagnosed everyone with HIV and ensured people with HIV know it and receive early and consistent treatment.
CDC recommends everyone aged 13-64 get tested at least once as part of routine health care. Fortunately, today there are many ways to access HIV tests: in a clinic, at your health care provider [PDF, 104KB], at a testing event, at home, or at a local organization.
Persons with high risk factors, e.g., some sexually active gay and bisexual men and transgender persons, persons with multiple sex partners, and persons who inject drugs, should get tested at least once a year for HIV and other STDS. Some may benefit from even more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months). All pregnant women should receive certain blood tests [PDF, 460KB], such as HIV, syphilis, and Hepatitis B virus, as part of prenatal care.
A special word for young people: Those aged 13-24 are the most likely to be unaware of their HIV infection – more than half of young people in that age group who are living with HIV do not know it. Further, those that may most need HIV testing are not getting it. A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that analyzed data from HIV tests provided to young people in 2015 identified gaps in linking young people to care after they receive an HIV diagnosis. Making testing available in locations where youth might interact with the health care system, and ensuring services are welcoming for all youth, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, may help to increase testing among young people.
So make this year’s National HIV Testing Day a day to get tested or remind others to do so, and support testing in your community. Remember Test Your Way. Do it Today!
Here are some CDC resources to assist you in getting an HIV test or encouraging others to do so.
CDC’s HIV Testing Guidelines for clinical settings
CDC’s HIV Testing Guidance for nonclinical settings
GetTested.cdc.gov to locate a testing site near you
CDC’s downloadable materials