Thursday, June 27, 2013

National HIV Testing Day



National HIV Testing Day is observed annually on June 27 to encourage everyone to Take the Test, Take Control, and know their HIV status.

More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, but one in five does not know they are positive. Early diagnosis and treatment improves health, extends life, and helps prevent the spread of HIV.

Maine CDC’s HIV, STD, and Viral Hepatitis Program helps support HIV testing by providing more than 3,500 tests to high risk populations in the state every year, which are offered anonymously or confidentially through community and clinical HIV testing providers and family planning sites.

In 2012, 48 new cases of HIV were reported in Maine.  Most of these cases were diagnosed in private clinical settings.  Overall, 1,654 people in Maine are living with diagnosed HIV, with an estimated 300-400 additional people living in the state who are positive but don’t know their status.

In Maine and nationally, about 40% of people who are newly diagnosed with HIV develop AIDS within a year, which indicates that they have been infected for years prior to being diagnosed.  People with these late diagnoses have a shortened life expectancy and have missed opportunities for treatment as well as for preventing transmission to others.

Patients should have an HIV test during medical check-ups, just like they would have a blood test or a urine test to be sure they are healthy.  Certain people should be screened more regularly based on their risk factors.

You should get tested for HIV at least every year if you:
  • Have had unprotected sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) with multiple or anonymous partners;
  • Have had unprotected sex with a partner who did not know their own HIV status;
  • Have a history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); or
  • Share needles/syringes or other equipment (“works”) for injecting drugs.

Some health care providers may recommend testing every 3-6 months if you have certain risk factors, including injection drug use and/or unprotected sex with others who engage in high-risk behaviors.  Talk to your health care provider to see how often you should be tested. (Read the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s recommendations for screening.)

If you have any questions about HIV testing, please contact Emer Smith at (207) 287-5193 or emer.smith@maine.gov.

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