Ending the Epidemic Starts with You: Get Tested

By Kristina Santana June 27, 2017

Did you know more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. and one in eight don’t know their status? Young people are the least likely to know. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 51% of people aged 13 to 24 who are living with HIV do not know their status. It can seem scary, but learning your status is the first step to protecting your health.

On June 27, 2017, I challenge everyone from all ages to participate in National HIV Testing Day. Centers, clinics, and mobile vans all over the country are opening their doors to make testing accessible and free for you! It is important for everyone to know their status. It may seem like a tough challenge, but let’s make it easier. Here’s how.

If you are concerned about being able to afford an HIV test, don’t worry! Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), HIV testing is covered by insurance without a copay, and if you don’t have insurance, many testing centers offer free testing. To find a testing center near you, click here.

If you test negative, you can talk with a provider and decide if you need additional forms of prevention, like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—a daily medication used to prevent the transmission of HIV. If the test comes back as positive, remember that HIV is very manageable. Health departments, organizations, and healthcare providers offer support, care, and treatment for people living with HIV. HIV treatment has changed and your provider can prescribe you medications to help reach viral suppression. Undetectable = untransmittable, meaning that a person living with HIV who has undetectable viral loads and is durably virally suppressed does not transmit HIV. The sooner you know your status, the sooner you can be linked to care and live a long, healthy life.

The CDC recommends that people ages 13 to 64 get tested at least once in their life. Populations with certain risk factors should get tested more often, such as every six months or at least once a year. Some of these populations may include, but are not limited to, men who have sex with men, sex workers, and people who inject drugs.

On June 27, make a commitment to putting your health and well-being first by getting tested. To learn more about National HIV Testing Week and for a list of events happening, visit the National HIV Testing Week website.

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