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World AIDS Day (and why HIV testing matters)

on Nov 28, 2011 | General | 0 comments

World AIDS Day is held annually on December 1st to increase awareness of the worldwide impact of HIV/AIDS. Getting to Zero is the theme of World AIDS Day 2011 – zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS related deaths.

There are more than 1 million Americans estimated to be living with HIV, and approximately 20%-25% of them aren’t diagnosed. Think about that…perhaps a quarter of a million people in one country have HIV and don’t know it.

The solution seems obvious, right? You just go take a test, figure out what you need to do, then go and do it.  Simple, eh?

Except when it’s not. Beyond issues of access to health care (we could fill pages on that one) many people aren’t tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections simply because they’re afraid. Or, they may be ashamed. It’s still hard for us to even talk about matters of S-E-X and this discomfort even hinders our ability to speak openly with our health care providers to get the tests and treatment so many need.

This is especially harmful with HIV. There’s no cure for the infection, of course, but todays drug “cocktails” are so effective that people with HIV routinely expect to live relatively healthy lives for many decades after diagnosis. Contrast this to the early days of the epidemic when an HIV diagnosis was essentially a death sentence.

A key to getting treated, of course, is knowing one’s status in the first place. HIV treatment is much more effective the earlier it begins.

Don’t let fear or embarrassment prevent you from having the tests you need. They can literally be life-saving for many of us.

Get an HIV test. Think about doing it this week. Please?

~Fred Wyand

aka Fredo on the ASHA Message Boards



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