June 25, 2018
June 27th is National HIV Testing Day, an annual occasion for learning about how and why to get tested for HIV and how to reduce our risk of getting and spreading it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in seven people in the U.S. with HIV don’t know they have it—and young people are the most likely to be unaware of their HIV status.
Ben Stearn, M.D., of Washington, D.C., is a doctor who specializes in HIV. He stresses the importance of getting tested: “Finding out (you are) HIV positive (can) result in early treatment, and early treatment maintains a full and healthy immune system.” Stearn says that if you discover you are HIV-positive, you should start treatment as soon as possible.
Getting tested is a way to take charge of your sexual health. As teens, we have the power to start lifelong habits to maintain good health. That’s why getting tested is a good choice for all sexually active teens. You can find a free testing center near you.
Aside from getting tested, it’s important to know the basic ways to prevent HIV. Using a condom the right way every time you have sex is crucial. People at a high risk of contracting HIV can also ask their doctors about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). This is a medicine that reduces the chance of contracting HIV.
National HIV Testing Day reminds us to be aware of our risks and take control of our sexual health. It’s important to take steps to keep ourselves and our current and future partners healthy. Be sure to use protection correctly and don’t forget to get tested!