Be In The Know, Know Your HIV Status and Get Tested

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., ACCESS Media Relations Specialist
June 9, 2017

 

Do you know if you are infected with HIV? Are you sure? If not, you’re not alone. More than one million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and one in seven of them don’t even know they have it.

It’s not an easy subject to discuss. We understand that, and that’s why through ACCESS’ Universal HIV Screening model, all ACCESS patients are asked if they would like to have an HIV test as a routine part of their blood work. Patients may opt out, but all patients will be asked and encouraged to know their HIV status.

Knowing whether you’re infected can be a matter of life and death not just for you, but for your loved ones as well. That’s why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine health care plan.

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day, and we encourage everyone to get tested. Testing is quick, free and confidential.

What is HIV?
It’s a virus that weakens a person’s immune system by destroying the important cells that fight disease and infection. No cure exists for HIV, which if untreated, leads to AIDS. But with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled.

Why Should I Get Tested, Am I At Risk?
African-Americans continue to experience the greatest diagnoses of HIV compared to other races. Hispanics are also affected by HIV more than any other population.
• African-Americans represent 12% of the U.S. population, but account for 45% of HIV diagnoses.
• Hispanics represent about 18% of the U.S. population, but account for 24% of those diagnosed with HIV.
• Between 2005-2014 young African-American gay and bisexual men (aged 13 to 24) experienced an 87% increase in diagnoses. Hispanic gay and bisexual men HIV infections also continue to rise each year.

What Are the Symptoms of HIV?
Once infected, some people may experience a flu-like illness within two to four weeks after infection. If you have these symptoms, that doesn’t mean you have HIV, but if you have these symptoms after a potential exposure to HIV, see a health care provider and tell them about your risk.

How can I get tested?
The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested, and you can do it today. You can either call ACCESS at 1.866.267.2353 to make an appointment or make one online here.

Is it expensive to get tested?
HIV screening is covered by health insurance without a co-pay, as required by the Affordable Care Act. Regardless of insurance status, all patients are welcome at ACCESS. Patients without the ability to pay will not be denied services, and we also offer a sliding fee scale program to those who are uninsured or underinsured and are eligible.

I’m definitely negative. How can I prevent getting the HIV virus?
Limit your number of sexual partners, never share needles, and use condoms the right way every time you have sex.

I tested positive. What do I do now?
At ACCESS, we have been recognized both locally and nationally for our HIV treatment and support services. All HIV-positive patients will be referred to one of ACCESS' five HIV hub sites for an initial consultation to support their primary care. We also have Infectious Disease specialists and trained linkage navigators who work closely with newly-diagnosed patients to ensure that they are connected to the right resources and are given the support they need to help them decide how best to address their diagnosis and treatment options.
It's important to note that a diagnosis of HIV-positive doesn't carry the stigma that it once did. While the initial diagnosis can be traumatic, there are new treatments that can help people live to near-normal life expectancy. At ACCESS, we are committed to saving lives and ensuring that our HIV-positive patients live long and productive lives.

Sources:
www.cdc.gov