National HIV Testing Day Raises Awareness, Encourages Screening

National HIV Testing Day, designated by the CDC, aims to encourage individuals to know their status.

An estimated 1.1 million individuals in the United States are living with HIV, including 162,500 who are unaware of their status, according to the CDC.

The CDC designates 1 day out of the year to

raise awareness for HIV infection, testing, and early diagnosis. On Wednesday, June 27, National HIV Testing Day encourages individuals to get tested for HIV. Understanding HIV

status through testing ensures that individuals can keep themselves, and others they encounter, healthy, and guides those who do have the infection to seek services that can improve their quality of life and length of survival.

Many individuals with HIV do no always know that they are living with the virus. Some may not show symptoms at first, which is why periodic testing is necessary. If HIV goes undiagnosed and untreated, patients may experience severe damage to their immune system. Screening tests identify people with the infection early on, so measures can be taken immediately to conduct treatment. Also, HIV

testing reminds individuals to take precautionary actions to prevent contracting or spreading the virus.

The CDC recommends a screening frequency of at least once a year. However, according to an analysis of national population-based survey data collected during 2006—2016, those at high risk for acquiring HIV are not adhering to this recommendation. Test providers can reduce HIV-related adverse health outcomes and risk for transmission by implementing routine and targeted testing to decrease the amount of time from infection to diagnosis. Health care providers and public health practitioners need to improve efforts to regularly screen all patients for HIV infection and to keep high risk individuals engaged in annual screenings for the infection.

HIV, often overlooked, continues to be a major health problem. Testing technology and methods have advanced so that HIV can be prevented, and those with the infection can live a long and healthy life.

This year’s National HIV Testing Day theme, Doing It My Way, reflects on the various reasons people have for getting HIV tested. Additional information for patients and health professionals on National HIV Testing Day, basic testing information, and guidelines for testing can be found on the CDC’s website.

Reference

CDC. National HIV Testing Day-June 27, 2018. CDC website

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6724a1.htm?s_cid=mm6724a1_w.

Published June 2018. Accessed June 26, 2018.