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National HIV Testing Day is a reminder to get the facts, get tested, and get involved to take care of yourself and your partners. An estimated 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and that number grows by almost 50,000 every year. One in seven people who have HIV don't know it. That means they aren't getting the medical care they need to stay healthy and avoid passing HIV to others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that more than 90 percent of new HIV infections in the United States could be prevented by testing and diagnosing people who have HIV and ensuring they receive prompt, ongoing care and treatment. Early linkage to and retention in HIV care is central to managing HIV and promoting health among all people living with HIV. HIV medicines can keep people with HIV healthy for many years, and greatly reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to their sex partners.
Get the Facts
Protecting yourself and others against HIV starts with knowledge. Knowing the facts about HIV will help you make informed decisions about sex, drug use, and other activities that may put you and your partners at risk for HIV.
•Learn the basics about HIV, how to prevent HIV transmission, and the steps you can take to protect yourself and others.
•Talk about what you learn with your friends and other people who are important to you.
•Empower even more people via social media. Share your new knowledge with your friends online.
The only way to know if you are infected with HIV is to get tested. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine healthcare, and that people with certain risk factors get tested more often. People with more than one sex partner, people with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and people who inject drugs are likely to be at high risk and should get tested at least once a year. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from even more frequent testing, depending on their risk. To protect your own health, you should also get tested if you have been sexually assaulted.
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the CDC recommends HIV testing with each pregnancy, both for your own benefit and to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to your baby.
Knowing your HIV status gives you the power to control your health and your future. And getting tested has never been easier. You can ask your healthcare provider to test you for HIV. Many medical clinics, substance abuse programs, community health centers, and hospitals offer HIV testing. Testing is often free of charge. You can also:
•Visit GetTested and enter your ZIP code.
•Text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948), and you will receive a text back with a testing site near you.
•Call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) to ask for free testing sites in your area.
•Contact your local health department.
•Get a home testing kit (the Home Access HIV-1 Test System or the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test) from a drugstore.
HIV testing is only one step. We can all do something to help stop HIV. Here are some ideas about how you and your friends can get involved.
•Share your knowledge of HIV or your personal HIV story with others. One of the best ways to increase awareness is through a personal connection with others. Participants featured in CDC's HIV awareness campaign Let's Stop HIV Together, shared their voices and personal stories to raise HIV awareness, reduce stigma, and champion the power of relationships in the personal and public fight to stop HIV.
•Use social media to increase HIV awareness. Follow @TalkHIV and tweet about National HIV Testing Day using #NHTD. You can also like Act Against AIDS on Facebook and create your own Let's Stop HIV Together meme. Share your ad and encourage others to do the same.
•Support people living with HIV. Have an open, honest conversation about staying safe and healthy. Listen to the challenges that people living with HIV face and provide support for their special needs.
•Volunteer in your community. The first step to getting involved in HIV prevention is to contact your local AIDS service organizations and/or community health departments. These groups can help identify opportunities or other organizations that may need the support of volunteers .
In addition, CDC's Act Against AIDS campaign materials promote HIV awareness and testing in high-risk populations.