HIV Testing is Self-Care
By Marissa Alaniz, Social Media Specialist | June 29, 2022, 5:39 p.m.
Category: Health Care Equity, Health Services, Healthy Relationships, HIV, Sex, Sex and relationships, Sex Education, Sexual Health, STD, STDs, STDs and Safer Sex, STI, STI Testing
Take charge of your health by knowing your HIV status.
National HIV Testing Day is observed every year on June 27th. This day is an opportunity to encourage and emphasize the importance of HIV testing, which is essential to reducing HIV infections, improving health outcomes for people with HIV, and helping to end the HIV epidemic in the United States.
It is as important as ever to practice self-love and get tested for HIV.
Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties (PPOSBC) is committed to the communities we serve by providing effective health care services, resources and education to help prevent, treat, and support HIV positive individuals and their partners. By providing greater access we can stop the spread of HIV and support individuals live a long, healthy life.
Let’s stop the spread of HIV together.
What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that damages your immune system, making it easier for you to get sick. HIV is spread through contact with semen (cum), vaginal fluids, and blood — usually during unprotected sex or through sharing injection drug equipment. HIV can affect anybody regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation. About 1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and more than 41,000 new infections happen every year.
If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). In the U.S., most people with HIV do not develop AIDS because taking HIV medicine as prescribed stops the progression of the disease. People with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long and healthy lives and will not transmit HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex. But the only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested.
How Do I Know If I Have HIV?
People with HIV don’t usually have symptoms right away, so they may not know they have it. It can be years before HIV makes you feel sick. That's why it's really important to get tested for HIV regularly, especially if you’ve had unprotected sex or shared needles.
HIV tests are quick, painless, and sometimes free.
The CDC recommends that everyone sexually active between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested as a part of routine wellness checks, even if they are in a committed relationship. If an individual is engaging in activities that are more at risk of contracting HIV, it is suggested they get tested every 3-6 months.
The best part about getting tested for HIV is once you get it over with, it can really put your mind at ease.
There’s no cure for HIV but there are treatments that can help a person stay healthier and lower their chances of spreading HIV to others. This is called ‘treatment as prevention” and works because it keeps a HIV person’s viral load down so low, it cannot be transmitted to another person. There is also a daily medicine called PrEP that can protect folks who might be more at risk of contracting HIV – they can talk to their healthcare provider to find out if PrEP is right for them. There is also an emergency medication called PEP, which is taken within 72 hours of exposure to HIV to help reduce the risk of transmission. This can be obtained at any hospital emergency room or someone could call their healthcare provider for more information.
Get Care with Planned Parenthood
At PPOSBC, we have services to help prevent, treat and support HIV positive individuals and their partners. We offer services in:
- HIV Testing
- HIV Test Education
- HIV Referrals
- HIV Case Management
- HIV Prevention (PEP and PrEP)
- Other HIV Services
Take care of yourself and make sure to include HIV testing as part of your self-care routine. Together we can stop the spread of HIV.
- Learn more about HIV and HIV Testing available at Planned Parenthood
- Learn available services for people living with HIV with the Foothill Aids Project.