National HIV Testing Day: Don't fear it, do it

CLEVELAND - Thursday is National HIV Testing Day. It was established on June 27, 1995 to promote HIV screening. Why is it necessary to have an annual recognition to promote HIV testing? It's necessary because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.1 million people in the U.S.. are living with HIV and 20 percent of them are unaware of it. That's a sobering fact.

The reason why most people, heterosexual and homosexual, don't get tested is because of fear. They fear the results of the test. The truth is getting an HIV test has more benefits than not knowing if you're HIV positive. And if you are a sexually active person, it should be a part of your health care routine.

The impact of a positive result can be overwhelming. I read an article on www.webmd.com in which Dr. Jeff Lennox explained that if you are diagnosed with HIV you should call everybody you've ever had sex with or shared needles with so that they can get tested too. Most people don't want to deal with that reality.

Lennox also talked about the fear of the testing procedure.  Earlier testing was done through drawing blood but now there is and oral HIV test. A swab device is placed in your mouth then dipped into a container of chemicals which can detect if your saliva is positive for HIV.

On the flip side, if you test negative you're not totally out of the woods. You should get re-tested in 6 months to confirm the negative result.

The biggest benefit of getting tested is peace of mind. You don't have to worry and wonder about it anymore. Plus, you can get an HIV test for free today at any testing site. So, if there is any possibility that your partner had sex with anyone besides you, you should definitely get tested. The sooner you know, treatment can begin and you can move forward living a healthier lifestyle.

The U.S.. Preventive Services Task Force recommends HIV testing for all people aged 15 to 65, pregnant women, younger adolescents and older adults who are at an increased risk for HIV.

The most important thing is to feel comfortable having an open and honest conversation with the person you're thinking about having sex with. Don't be afraid to ask the question, "What's you HIV status?"

For information on a testing site near you go to hivtest.cdc.gov

If you would like more information on HIV and the impact it's having on our local community go to aidstaskforc.org

Get tested. Stay healthy and don't fear it - do it!

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