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National HIV Testing Day

Medically reviewed on Jun 14, 2018 by L. Anderson, PharmD

A Call to Action: Get Tested, June 27th, 2018

National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) -- June 27th each year -- is the national observance day in the U.S. to promote Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) testing. NHTD and the theme Doing It My Way, Testing for HIV is the 2018 national HIV testing and prevention campaign designed to promote testing for HIV to learn one's HIV status.

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with the HIV virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), but 1 in 7 of these people do not know that they are infected.
  • In 2016, an estimated 39,782 people were newly diagnosed with HIV. From 2011 to 2015 the number of new HIV diagnoses declined by 5 percent.
  • HIV can affect anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender or age. However, certain groups are at higher risk for HIV and merit special consideration because of particular risk factors. Gay and bisexual men are more severely affected by HIV than any other group in the United States. 
  • In 2015, 22% of all new HIV diagnoses were among youth aged 13 to 24 years. Young gay and bisexual men are especially at risk for HIV. Young, African American gay and bisexual men are even more severely affected.

These statistics emphasize the need that each person who has unprotected sex with someone whose HIV status they do not know may be at risk for contracting HIV. Additionally, anyone who does not know their HIV status and has unprotected sex with someone else is at risk for spreading the virus to others unknowingly. Getting tested can help to reduce this dangerous cycle.

Who Should Be Tested for HIV?

The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 years of age be HIV-tested at least once as part of their regular health screening. Pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy should also undergo early HIV testing as part of their routine prenatal check-up at each pregnancy to help prevent passing HIV to their babies.

People at higher risk for HIV should be tested at least once a year, or more often. The CDC estimates that more than 90% of all new infections could be prevented by proper testing and linking HIV positive persons to care. They suggest at least yearly testing for those at higher risk for HIV, such as:

  • Intravenous drugs users.
  • People who exchange sex for money or drugs.
  • Sexually active gay and bisexual men (testing every 3 to 6 months may benefit some).
  • Those who have had sex—anal or vaginal—with an HIV-positive partner.
  • If you've had more than one sex partner since your last HIV test.
  • You've shared needles or supplies for injecting drugs.
  • You have another sexually transmitted disease, hepatitis, or tuberculosis.
  • You've had sex with anyone who who has done any of the above actions or have had sex with someone whose HIV status you do not know.

Gay and bisexual men who are sexually active with multiple partners may benefit from more frequent testing, perhaps every 3 to 6 months. People who have been sexually assaulted should consider post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), taking certain antiretroviral medicines after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent becoming infected.

Where Can I Get an HIV Test?

The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested:

  • Consult with a healthcare provider to find an HIV testing center, find a place to be tested in the community, or take a home HIV test. Community resources include medical clinics, local health departments, substance abuse programs, community health centers, and hospitals. Call and ask if they offer testing.
  • You can purchase a home HIV testing kit from your local pharmacy or online, but be sure you are buying from reputable online site. If unsure, it's better to buy from a pharmacy.
  • You can find the location of local HIV testing sites by entering your zip code at these websites: gettested.cdc.gov or locator.hiv.gov , or you can text your zip code to “KNOW IT” (566948), or you can call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636). All of these resources are free and confidential.

How Can I Lower My Risk of Getting HIV?

You can lower your HIV risk by having sex with one partner only whose HIV status is known by you to be uninfected.

  • If you know your partner is positive for HIV or are not sure of your partner's status, use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal or oral sex.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about options like medicines that prevent and treat HIV, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis PrEP, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and antiretroviral therapy.
  • The HIV.gov website has more information about PrEP here.

See a healthcare provider as soon as possible if you know your HIV status is positive. Most people who are infected with HIV will progress to AIDS if not treated. Early detection and treatment for HIV can drastically affect how healthy an HIV patient can remain, so early testing is endorsed by the CDC. Getting treated also helps to lower the chance that HIV is passed on to others.

What is Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)?

Using antiretroviral drugs to help prevent infection is called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. The PrEP approach to HIV prevention can protect people at high risk of being infected with HIV. A combination of two HIV medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine), sold under the name Truvada, is approved for daily use as PrEP to help prevent an HIV-negative person from getting HIV from a sexual or injection-drug-using partner who’s positive.

PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV infection in intravenous (IV) drug abusers, in transmission of HIV from mother to child, in sexually active gay and bisexual men and in heterosexuals. If you are uninfected, but are at high risk of acquiring HIV infection, talk to your health care provider about PrEP options.

To Learn More Information About HIV/AIDs Testing

To Learn More About National HIV Testing Day

To Learn More Information About HIV/AIDS

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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