One in five people who are infected with HIV in the U.S. don’t know their status, and many are diagnosed too late to benefit from effective care and treatment. This HIV Testing Day, June 27, the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) urges all Americans to “know their status” by getting tested and making HIV testing a routine part of their medical care.
Knowing your HIV status matters now more than ever: Effective medications are available, and treatment leads to improved outcomes for the infected individual and decreased transmission to others. Recently updated federal treatment guidelines recommend that everyone infected with HIV start lifesaving treatment, emphasizing the importance of early detection through testing. People who are diagnosed and treated early have better long-term health outcomes and minimize their risk of spreading the infection to others.
“Early access to expert HIV care prevents serious damage to a patient’s immune system and allows patients to live much longer, healthier lives,” said HIVMA Chair Judith A. Aberg, MD, FIDSA. “One of our most effective strategies for reducing HIV infections is to connect people with HIV to care early so that they can fully benefit from treatment and be less likely to transmit the virus to others. That is why it is so important that everyone get tested.”
The results of a major study announced in 2011, HPTN 052, confirmed that HIV treatment prevents spread of HIV to others, underscoring the importance of early diagnosis. Increased access to HIV testing can help to increase the number of American who know their status.
“Today, more than 30 years after the first reported cases of HIV/AIDS, we have the tools and the knowledge to reduce new HIV infections and effectively treat those infected,” said HIVMA Chair-Elect Michael Horberg, MD, FIDSA. “Early diagnosis and access to care—through routine HIV testing—is critical if we are to reduce the more than 50,000 new cases of HIV that occur each year in this country and finally turn the tide against this disease.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others recommend that everyone above the age of 13 be tested for HIV. Repeat testing is recommended based on a physician’s evaluation of the individual’s risk factors for the disease. For more information about HIV Testing Day, including a searchable list of testing sites across the country, visit www.hivtest.org.
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