June 27th was established as the National HIV Testing Day. The annual observance is to promote HIV testing across the nation. Every year the theme is “Take the Test. Take Control" (AIDS, 2015).
There are many viruses that affect humans and their health. Our body’s immune system can usually fight off the virus until it is eliminated from our body. Unfortunately the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus our bodies cannot get rid of (HIV/AIDS, 2015). HIV and AIDS was first recognized in the United States in 1981 (Averting HIV and AIDS, 2014).
The most common ways HIV is spread is having sex with someone who has the virus or by sharing needles and syringes with someone who has HIV (HIV/AIDS, 2015). Educating yourself and others on ways to prevent contracting HIV can help decrease the spread of the virus.
The most recent data says there are 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States. Approximately 86% of these individuals have been diagnosed, leaving 14% (1 in 7) of these individuals unaware that they have HIV (Aids, 2015). There are approximately 50,000 people who get infected with HIV every year (HIV/AIDS, 2015).
People think they are not at a high risk for contracting HIV therefore they don’t get tested. CDC recommends healthcare providers make HIV testing part of routine care for people between the ages of 13 and 64 (HIV/AIDS, 2015).
There are several tests that can be administered to check for HIV, most are done at healthcare facilities but there are two options available for use in your home. The tests use an oral fluid sample or a blood sample to check for certain antibodies and antigens produced by your body (HIV/AIDS, 2015).
If an individual finds out they have HIV there are treatment options available. Although HIV cannot be cured, the use of antiretroviral drugs will help in protecting the immune system. The drugs can help you live longer, lower the risk of developing non-HIV related illnesses, and reduce the chances of passing along HIV to other people (AIDS, 2015).
In 2010, President Obama issued the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The vision stated in the strategy is for the United States to be a place where HIV infections are rare, and if it does occur the individual will have the best care available (National HIV/AIDS Strategy, 2013). There were three HIV health outcome goals: reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes for people living with HIV, and reducing HIV-related health disparities (National HIV/AIDS Strategy, 2013).
To find locations near you to get tested for HIV please visit:
Aids. (March 6, 2015). Retrieved from https://www.aids.gov/federal-resources/policies/care-continuum/
Averting HIV and AIDS. (December 12, 2014). Retrieved from http://www.avert.org/hiv-prevention.htm
HIV/AIDS. (April 29, 2015). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/index.html
National HIV/AIDS Strategy. (December, 2013). Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/onap_nhas_improving_outcomes_dec_2013.pdf
By: Ashley Taylor, RDH, BSDH
Ms. Taylor is a dental hygienist, who graduated from the Dental Hygiene Program at Texas Woman's University. To further her education, she is working towards a Master's in Health Studies with a focus in dental hygiene.