My Test, My Way – By Getting Tested, We Can Stop the HIV Epidemic Together
National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) falls annually on June 27th each year. This year’s theme, “My Test, My Way,” plays on the instrumental role that testing plays in eradicating the HIV epidemic. Building on the different awareness days each year (such as the June 5th Long-Term HIV Survivors Awareness Day), NHTD highlights different ways individuals can get tested and provides information on the numerous available resources regarding testing for and living with HIV.
Globally, an estimated 38 million people are living with HIV. In the U.S., the latest numbers show 1.2 million people live with HIV, with 14% unaware of their status. The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. CDC data shows that 4 out of every 10 new HIV infections are transmitted by people unaware of their status; this underscores the importance of getting tested. As an instrumental part of reducing and eventually ending HIV, National HIV Testing Day plays a critical role in creating awareness for increased testing rates.
With approximately 36,400 new HIV infections in the U.S. (as of 2018) per year and the ability for the virus to lay dormant (latency period) for up to 10 years, individuals may not present symptoms and thus, may not be aware of their status. This can lead to increased transmission and personal health risks without receiving medical attention.
Thankfully, with modern treatment and antiretroviral drugs, living with HIV is no longer a death sentence; now, individuals can live a long and healthy life. Testing is a key part of the CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together initiative. June 27th marks an important date to showcase the ease of getting tested and the different support mechanisms for HIV-positive people.
The focus of NHTD is to create awareness and help reach groups that are disproportionately affected by the disease. By showcasing the ease and safety of HIV testing, National HIV Testing Day can help create awareness of how easy getting tested is. With more education, testing can help reduce stigma and provide additional opportunities to support those who receive and are living with a positive diagnosis.
In the 2021 National HIV Testing Day announcement, Harold Phillips and Jonathan Mermin stated that this year, the theme helps to emphasize that “there are different ways and places to get tested for HIV including at home with a self-test.” In addition, “this year provides opportunities to talk about the testing options available and to empower audiences to choose based on their preferences and convenience.”
This important day brings together many organizations to join forces to raise the profile of the disease but also provide resources to get tested, learn more about the virus, and find the support required to live a healthy and viable life.
With the initiative, Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. announced in 2019, different organizations and agencies have partnered to achieve the goal of ending the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. Together, they are looking to reduce the number of new infections by 75% in 2025 and by at least 90% by 2030.
Knowing your HIV status is the first step to putting you in charge of your health. bioLytical is proud to be a key partner worldwide in HIV diagnostics and offers the world’s fastest Point-of-Care rapid HIV 1/HIV 2 antibody test.
The INSTI 60-second HIV Antibody Test provides accurate, easy-to-read results in less than one minute. It is the perfect test for high-volume campaigns such as National HIV Testing Day. In addition, the ability to provide a rapid result will help encourage more testing with minimal time or constraints.
Check out the links below for more great resources to learn more about HIV, testing programs near you, and overall support available in your communities.
- Testing Locations: https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/hiv-testing/learn-about-hiv-testing/where-to-get-tested
- Know Your Status Video: https://youtu.be/kmm4gUN-B34
- How to Talk About Testing: https://www.cdc.gov/stophivtogether/hiv-testing/talk-testing.html
- HIV Stigma and What to Do About It: https://www.cdc.gov/stophivtogether/hiv-stigma/index.html
National HIV Testing Day provides an opportunity for all Americans to take the initiative to take control of their health by knowing their status, learn more about the virus, and reduce stigma related to HIV.