HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, and it is known to weaken the immune system by destroying cells that are important to the body, whose role is to fight diseases and infections. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), they have reported about one in eight Americans are unaware they are infected with HIV. However, getting tested for HIV can help others to stay healthy.
On Saturday, June 27 National HIV Testing Day was celebrated and free tests were given nationwide to those who were curious about their status. The CDC released their report on Thursday, June 25, a couple of days before the national celebration. This allowed them to get a glimpse at how many people have been infected since the last annual celebration. In 2010, the White House set a goal for each state to get as many residents as they could, tested. The CDC found that New York, Hawaii, Colorado, Connecticut, and Delaware accomplished the goal by having 90 percent of their residents aware of their status.
After the goal was set, the nation found that 1.2 million people were living with the virus in 2011. The highest ranking city in the U.S., of people living with the virus, is Philadelphia. It has a rank of five times the average number of any of the other major cities in the U.S.. However, when people get tested for HIV it helps prevent others from contracting the virus.
Each year 50,000 or more people are diagnosed with AIDS or HIV. With many people not getting tested, Emory University’s School of Public Health, has come up with a project that maps out data about the disease. The university uses CDC’s Prevention map and the U.S. census to determine how many infections occur in the city and counties across the nation. According to recently released statistics from AIDSVu, a data project, 3 percent of new HIV infections occur in two-thirds of the rural counties and city areas that do not have enough resources.
Dr. Laurie Dill, director of Medical AIDS Outreach of Alabama stated, “lack of resources leads to grant-giving institutions and medical professionals being unaware of how fast the virus is growing.” She believes getting tested is not an individual act because testing data gives researchers and doctors a better idea of what areas need the most care. Emory’s data was used by Dill to determine which communities needed access to receive care from the organizations eight telemedicine sites. The sites give patients in distant areas the ability to communicate via video chats with social workers, doctors, mental health professionals, and pharmacists. Having the telemedicine in health facilities also keeps a patient from feeling embarrassed because they will not have to announce their status if they are infected with HIV to any specific clinic.
People do not get tested because they still believe it is a gay white man’s disease. However, many cases have changed that logic as women and African-American men became known as the highest ranking numbers to live with the disease and die from AIDS. There are many ways a person can find out whether or not they have contracted the virus, and new medicines have been developed to help one live a full life with the virus if it is caught in its early stages. Getting tested for HIV might be scary for some, but it can help others.
By Krystle Mitchell
Huffington Post: Why Getting Tested for HIV can help your Community
USA Today: CDC report: 1 in 8 Americans with HIV know they have the virus
News Channel 3: Many Americans with HIV don’t know they are infected
Guardian Liberty Voice: HIV Virus Can Exist in Total Unawareness
Photo Courtesy of NIAID’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License