National HIV Testing Day in June
On June 27 we recognize “National HIV Testing” Day. Since the advent of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s, public awareness, scientific research and medical advances have come a long way. While AIDS remains a prominent threat and has been identified as one of the most destructive pandemics in world history, public health experts can embrace the progress that has been made. The challenge for our current generation, a generation that has never known a world without AIDS, is to continue the efforts of awareness, prevention and medical research.
Today, unlike in the 1980’s, the public is aware that AIDS is not spread through casual contact and that 90% of all AIDS cases are contracted from sexual contact. In 2006, the Centers’ for Disease Control recommended that all adults be tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. According to the Guttmacher institute’s review of this policy, “The AIDS epidemic in the United States is very different today than when the disease was first identified 25 years ago”. With the advent of more effective antiretroviral drugs, people have been able to live longer and administering treatment to HIV-positive women during pregnancy has almost eliminated perinatal transmission, less than a 2% transmission rate.
Furthermore, studies have found that the very act of going for testing has reduced the transmission of the disease. There is evidence to suggest that those diagnosed HIV-positive alter their behaviors to reduce spreading the disease and individuals found to be HIV-negative have changed their behaviors in order to avoid future infection. Confidential testing offers basic information, an opportunity to ask questions and referrals to clinical care, counseling and support services.
While we have more progress to be made, since the 2006 recommendation for more widespread testing, the United States has seen a decline in the number of individuals unaware of their HIV status. The important next step is to connect with the resources in your community. Lebanon Family Health Services offers free and confidential HIV testing daily on a walk in basis. Call 273-6741 for hours. Lebanon Family Health Services also provides preventive educational programming on HIV/AIDS and other reproductive health issues.