Know your status? The National Association of People with AIDS encourages you to find out tomorrow during National HIV Testing Day.
According to statistics provided by NAPWA, one third of people with HIV are diagnosed so long after they acquire their infection that they develop AIDS within one year. These individuals will be sicker, die sooner, and have infected more of their partners than they would have if they had been tested earlier. To combat this, NAPWA established National HIV Testing Day back back in 1995 to encourage people to find out their status early in order to keep themselves and their partners healthy.
The 2012 observance of National HIV Testing Day also marks the start of a new pilot project by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expand access to HIV testing through pharmacies and retail store clinics in an effort to increase the availability of testing for all people:
…the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced a new pilot project to train pharmacists and retail store clinic staff at 12 rural and 12 urban sites to provide voluntary, confidential, rapid HIV testing. The goal is to extend HIV testing and counseling and make it much more easily accessible in the communities where people live.
The result of this two-year initiative will be a model of HIV testing availability in pharmacies and retail clinics across the United States. Lessons learned from the project will be incorporated into a comprehensive toolkit that pharmacists and retail clinic staff can use to expand HIV testing nationwide.
Expanding testing access beyond traditional venues will increase the number of people who know their HIV status and help people with HIV get the medical treatment and care they need to live longer and healthier lives. If HIV testing were readily available at all pharmacies throughout our nation, millions of Americans who enter these stores and clinics every week would have ready access to testing services that not only can save their lives, but also help prevent further spread of the virus.
Want to join in with National HIV Testing Day tomorrow? Check out the CDC’s database of HIV testing sites in your neighborhood or text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948) to find a location for your test. Once you find your preferred resource, encourage your friends to get tested as well. Knowing your status is a simple thing you can do to help keep yourself — and the community at large — healthy.