BOSTON — On National HIV Testing Day, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) is encouraging people to get tested and learn how they can protect themselves from contracting HIV. This day of recognition serves as an opportunity to stress the importance of getting tested for HIV, reduce stigma around HIV, and emphasize testing as a normal part of preventive care.
“Knowing your status is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health and take control of your sex life. The sooner you know your status, the better you can take charge of your health and the health of your partners,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president and CEO of PPLM. “All sexually transmitted diseases, even HIV, are treatable. HIV can be managed and HIV-positive individuals can live long, healthy lives if they know their status, get care, and stick with a treatment plan.”
HIV continues to be an urgent public health crisis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all Americans between the ages of 13-64 get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime and those at higher risk get tested more frequently. Communities facing structural barriers to care, including men who have sex with men, Black women, young people, and transgender people, are disproportionately impacted by HIV.
“Massachusetts is making great progress in the fight against HIV, and it’s more important than ever that we dismantle barriers to care and increase access to prevention tools, such as testing, education, condoms, and PrEP to the communities most impacted by HIV,” Childs-Roshak said.
Each of PPLM’s five health centers offers free condoms, nonjudgmental education on HIV and STD prevention, rapid HIV testing, and PrEP, a daily regimen that significantly reduces the chances of becoming HIV-positive if exposed to the virus. The important work Planned Parenthood health centers do every day to keep all people safe and healthy underlines the potentially tragic consequences if the Senate passes Trumpcare, which would throw millions off their insurance plans and block Medicaid patients from accessing care, including HIV testing and prevention, at Planned Parenthood health centers.
“Congress shouldn’t be putting roadblocks between people and their health care, but that’s exactly what will happen if the Senate passes Trumpcare and blocks people who rely on Medicaid from accessing basic testing and prevention services at Planned Parenthood,” said Childs-Roshak. “Everyone—no matter their income or insurance provider—deserves the ability to take control of their health and build a healthier future.”