Did you know that June 27th is National HIV Testing Day? This is a day to help raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and early diagnosis of HIV. This year, Lone Star Circle of Care is going beyond the test to emphasize the steps everyone can take to know their status.
What’s Your Status?
Testing is the 1st step to care or prevention and is vital in helping to end the HIV epidemic in the United States. If you are between the ages of 15 and 65, it is important to test for HIV at least once, as part of routine healthcare. If you have certain risk factors, which are mentioned below, annual testing may be necessary. Knowing your HIV status – whether you test positive or negative for the disease – is a vital step in getting treatment (if needed) and preventing the disease from spreading.
The good news is that, on average, most people test negative for HIV. However, you might still be at risk for the disease and could benefit from additional precautions if you have had anal or vaginal sex in the past 6 months, and you:
- Have a sexual partner with HIV or a partner who does not know their status
- Have not consistently used a condom
- Have been diagnosed with an STI in the past 6 months
- Have a partner who uses intravenous drugs
- Share needles, syringes, or other injection equipment
For extra peace of mind, you may consider PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, which is a medicine people can take to prevent getting HIV from sex, during or after pregnancy, or injection drug use. PrEP is not a cure for HIV, but rather it is a pill taken daily to protect against getting HIV. PrEP is readily available and affordable, even if you do not have health insurance. Word to the wise – PrEP does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis – condoms are still the safest way to protect from STIs.
If you want to learn more or think PrEP might be for you, visit our website or connect with a Lone Star Circle of Care HIV Prevention Navigator, who can answer questions and assist with getting access to low- or no-cost cost prescriptions through medication assistance programs, such as Ready, Set, PrEP.
Status: Positive (Now What?)
Thanks to advances in antiretroviral therapy – the medicine used to treat HIV – people with HIV who take their medicine as prescribed and, as a result, maintain an undetectable viral load can live long, healthy lives and have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to a partner.
For patients diagnosed with HIV, Lone Star Circle of Care provides referral to specialized medical care and treatment for the management of HIV. Referral is provided to the following clinics offering HIV treatment and other services to support the health of persons living with HIV.
For help navigating an HIV diagnosis and/or referral to treatment at these or other locations, schedule an appointment with a primary care provider at Lone Star Circle of Care.
Knowledge is Power!
HIV testing is a normal part of routine healthcare and knowing your HIV status is a powerful tool for staying HIV-free or getting connected to lifesaving medications. Know your status and power up!
This article was written by the Lone Star Circle of Care HIV Prevention Team and published by Ty Bishop, Communications Coordinator.