National HIV Testing Day – June 27

177411991Recent headlines have made many of us aware that HIV is still a disease that impacts the lives of people in our communities. It is a disease for which we still have no cure, and one that needs to be talked about so people can be properly educated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV and that number increases by almost 50,000 each year.

Unfortunately, it is often a silent disease and many people do not know they are infected (one in seven). That makes testing for it a vital component to the care of individuals and our community as a whole.

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. It is a day to think about whether it can be an important health decision for you to see if you could be infected. If seeking out a test today is not an option, I encourage you to use National HIV Testing Day as a day to make an appointment with your health care provider to find a time to talk about HIV, learn more about it and be tested.

HIV is spread through contact with blood or some body fluids. This can occur through sexual contact or by sharing drug injection equipment. It is not spread by casual contact such as shaking hands or hugging.

The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13-64 be tested at least once and high-risk groups be tested more frequently. High-risk groups include those who inject drugs, those with more than one sex partner, those who have had another sexually transmitted disease or those who have been sexually assaulted.

The most common test for HIV is performed using a sample of blood or oral fluid. If you would like to be tested, please call UofL Physicians at (502) 588-6000 to find a physician. Or visit GetTested and enter your zip code, or text your zip code to KNOWIT (566948) to receive a text with a testing site near you. You can also contact your local health department or call (800) CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) to find a free testing sites in your area.

If you think that you could have been infected with HIV, testing should not be put off. Testing is the first step in receiving health care assistance. Preventing HIV is important, so practice safer sex using barrier precautions, do not share needles or any device that comes into contact with blood, think about ways you come into contact with the blood or body fluids of others—Practicing safe sex, not sharing drug needles – practicing less risky behaviors – can help you prevent HIV.

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About Ruth Carrico, Ph.D.

Dr. Ruth Carrico is an infectious disease specialist with UofL Physicians – Vaccine & International Travel Center and the 550 Clinic. Her specialty is infection disease, and her areas of interest include infection prevention and control, immunization, international health and travel, vaccine research, refugee health and global health. She has a bachelor’s degree from Norton Memorial Infirmary School of Nursing and Bellarmine University School of Nursing. She received her master’s degree from Webster University, her master’s degree in nursing with a concentration as a family nurse practitioner from Northern Kentucky University and her Ph.D. from California Coast University. She is a member of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, Kentucky Nurses Association and the American Nurses Association.

All posts by Ruth Carrico, Ph.D.