Each year, HIV affects about 1.2 million people ages 13 years and older in the U.S. It is estimated that nearly 1 in 7 people who have HIV do not know they are infected. Because of this, it is important to know your status by getting tested.
What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. If not treated, it can lead to AIDS. While there is no known cure for HIV, proper treatment can help control the virus and allow those infected to lead normal, healthy lives and prevent spreading HIV to their partners and/or children.
How does HIV spread?
HIV is found in blood, semen, vaginal and anal fluid and breast milk. Because of this, the virus can be spread in many ways, including:
- Unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Sharing needles or injection drug equipment
- Healthcare accidents (such as needle sticks)
Why is testing important?
The only way to diagnose HIV is through testing. When diagnosed early, treatment can start in the beginning stages of the virus and help reduce the risk of developing AIDS. With quick action and proper medical care, getting HIV under control within six months is possible.
Everyone between 15 and 65 should get tested for HIV at least once. However, people in high-risk groups, including those with HIV-positive partners, those whose partner’s sexual history is unknown and those who have shared needles or other injection tools, should get tested at least once a year. Women should also be tested before and during pregnancy to help prevent spreading the virus to their babies.
How do I get tested for HIV?
Testing for and diagnosing HIV early can save lives. Speak with your HealthLinc provider about testing options. Remember, the best time to get tested for HIV is today!