As part of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, Public Health Seattle & King County is reminding all King County residents between the ages of 13 and 64 to get an HIV test at least once as part of their routine primary care.
While your provider checks your blood for high cholesterol and high blood sugar (or anything else, for that matter), tell them you want an HIV test. It’s just as easy and just as important. Even if you don’t have a primary care provider, you can ask any doctor to do an HIV test. And every provider in Washington State has just been notified that they should offer routine testing to all of their patients. So don’t be surprised if you are asked to test next time you see your provider. Women should test each time they are pregnant. And people at higher risk should get an HIV test at least once a year.
The CDC has recently recommended that all people between 13 and 64 years old get a routine HIV test. But many people still do not test because they think they are not at risk. In fact, more than half of Americans aged 18–64 have never been tested for HIV. And an estimated 15% of people with HIV in King County do not know they have it.. Routine testing has the potential to reduce the spread of the epidemic, and help get people who have HIV into care.
The first cases of the infection that would later be known as HIV and AIDS were diagnosed 30 years ago this month. Treatments have come a long way since 1987, when AZT was the first medicine approved to work against HIV. We now have drugs that work very well against the virus. They work even better the sooner you start them. Early care with effective treatment reduces the risk of people with HIV getting sicker and infecting partners. And there are programs in Washington State that help people without health insurance pay for HIV medication.
So, this National HIV Testing Day, remember the recommendation: If you are between the ages of 13 and 64, get an HIV test at least once. If you are at higher risk, test more often. Ask your doctor how often you should get tested. Take the test. Take control.
For more information:
- Find a place to get tested in your community
- Learn more about HIV/AIDS and how to protect yourself
- See Public Health’s HIV and STD website