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It's National HIV Testing Day: Here's Why You Should Get Checked For It

Jun 28, 2018 01:58 AM EDT
Blood Test
HIV testing should be part of routine health care, CDC says.
(Photo : Ewa Urban | Pixabay)

Early detection is key in HIV treatment, so mark National HIV Testing Day with a trip to the clinic for routine testing.

Although there are at risk groups who are advised to take the HIV test annually, health officials recommend everyone aged 13 to 64 to undergo testing at least once.

Why It's Important To Get Tested

Easy, fast, and potentially life-saving, HIV testing is important — and once a year, people are encouraged to go out and check if they have the virus.

CDC says that one out of 7 people in the United States who have HIV are unaware that they're even infected. If left untreated, the virus could progress into something more serious such as AIDS.

If HIV is detected early, patients can simply take medication to treat the condition and stay healthy for a lot of years. It can also reduce the risks of passing the virus to other sexual partners. For pregnant women, treating the virus early in the pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of transmitting it to the baby.

"Some people avoid getting tested because they are afraid of testing HIV positive," DOH-Hillsborough Human Services Program Director James Roth tells WFLA. "What many do not know is that with the right medication, HIV can become undetectable in lab tests. If HIV is undetectable for six months, it becomes untransmittable."

An HIV test could save lives — plus, it's quick, easy, and relatively painless. According to The AIDS Institute, there are rapid HIV tests available for those who don't want to wait a week or two for the results. It's just a quick prick on the finger, and a positive or negative reading will be in as soon as 20 minutes later.

Furthermore, there are clinics offering free HIV testing. Visit CDC to find a free test near you.

Testing For HIV

There are several ways to test for HIV, but the most common one is testing the antigens or antibodies in the blood or oral fluid. There are even anonymous home testing kits, which involves sending a blood sample to a laboratory by mail.

HIV cannot be detected by any of the tests immediately after infection, although post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP medicine can prevent infection if taken within 72 hours of potential exposure to the virus.

The antigen or antibody test on blood from a vein detects HIV about 18 to 45 days after exposure, but if the blood is from a finger prick, it takes 18 to 90 days to detect the virus. The nucleic acid test can spot it 10 to 33 days after exposure.

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