Do You Know Your HIV Status? Take The Test. Take Control

AIDS Awareness RibbonOn June 27, the nation will observe the 19th annual National HIV Testing Day. This year’s theme is “Take the Test. Take Control.”

Testing yourself for HIV is extremely important for making the appropriate decisions in your life concerning your health moving forward. Certain groups, including African Americans, Latinos, and gay and bisexual men of all races/ethnicities, continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV.

Within the Latino community, HIV/AIDS is a serious public health issue that cannot be taken lightly.

In 2009, Latinos accounted for 20 percent of new HIV cases making the rate of new infections three times that of whites, according to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention.

There are various causes for spreading of the infection, namely unprotected sex between men and injected drug usage among Puerto Ricans especially.

Among Latinos, convincing of HIV testing is difficult due to fear of discrimination, stigmatization or immigration status. Along with that, the idea of traditional gender roles as well as homophobia may also present a challenge in testing for HIV.

Taking Control

If you practice safe sex and test negative for HIV, knowing that you are taking the proper measures to stay free and clear will help you stay that way. This also includes periodic testing if you engage in high-risk behaviors, such as multiple sex partners or engaging in injected drug use.

If you have HIV, medications known as antiretrovial therapy, or ART, make it less likely that you pass the virus on to someone else, help you stay healthy and live longer.

Recently, the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, has expanded free access to HIV screenings for many people. The law will also help those living with HIV/AIDS obtain the treatment that they need. Many of the most important ACA’s provisions will be put into place come Jan. 1, 2014 which will increase access to healthcare for millions of Americans including those living with the virus.

As of Oct. 1, 2013, those interested should prepare by enrolling in ACA-mandated Health Insurance Marketplace to find affordable health insurance.

Long-term Care

By testing for HIV, people will have the opportunity to connect with proper authorities to obtain treatment, support and care to take medications appropriately. Nearly three of every four people living with HIV in the United States do not successfully navigate the stages of care.

These stages, also known as “treatment cascade,” are: HIV testing and diagnosis; actively linking those who test positive to care; retaining them in care over time; providing ART; and achieving “viral suppression” by using treatment to keep HIV at a level that helps individuals stay healthy and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to others.

Find your nearest testing resource now.