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Say Yes to the Test!AIDS-HIV.jpg
June 27, 2013 is National HIV Testing Day. Has your doctor talked to you about having an HIV test?

Why is HIV testing so important?
More than 1.2 million people living in the United States are infected with HIV. Twenty percent of them do not know they have it. This means 240,000 Americans are unaware that their immune systems are being attacked and that they can infect others with HIV. That is frightening!

Why don’t more people get tested for HIV?
Reason 1: People don’t understand they are at risk. They believe that HIV is limited to men who have sex with men. The truth is anyone of any age, race, sex or sexual orientation can become infected with HIV. Those at greatest risk of HIV/AIDS are people who: 
  • Do not use condoms every time they have sex. HIV is more apt to be spread during anal sex than vaginal or oral sex. The risk is even higher for people with multiple sex partners.
  • Have another sexually transmitted infection (STI). Genital tissue that is inflamed due to an STI provides an easy way for HIV to enter the body.
  • Use intravenous drugs. Sharing needles, syringes, and other supplies with someone who has HIV, puts you at high risk for becoming infected.

Reason 2: People think an HIV diagnosis means they are going to die. Early in the history of the HIV epidemic, AIDS claimed a lot of young lives. Fortunately, things are different now. There are many medicines available that help HIV positive people live long, productive lives. HIV is now considered a chronic illness that can be successfully managed for many years. The sooner a person is diagnosed and starts treatment, the better!

Reason 3: People think an HIV diagnosis will change their lives.They are right. Being diagnosed with any chronic disease, including HIV, is life-changing. It affects not only you, but your family and friends. It may mean you have to stop some old habits and adopt new ones. For instance, diabetics must change their diets and inject insulin; people with sleep apnea wear oxygen masks to bed every night; and cancer patients deal with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Likewise, people diagnosed with HIV will need to learn how to deal with their infection. There will be medications, visits to specialists, and decisions about how to tell their friends, families, and sexual partners.

The good news is that there is a lot of support available for people who are HIV positive. In the Finger Lakes Region, Trillium Health helps individuals diagnosed with HIV find doctors, get to appointments, manage their medications, talk to family members, and deal with the emotional stress of finding out they have HIV.

Reason 4: People don't know where to get tested.
Your healthcare provider's office is a great place to start. In fact, your HIV status is an important piece of information for your provider to have as he cares for you.

In New York State, medical providers are required by law to offer HIV testing to all patients between the ages of thirteen and sixty-four. This makes HIV testing a routine part of care like other common screening tests (blood counts, cholesterol checks, mammograms, etc.).

If you do not have a healthcare provider, HIV tests can be done during emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and at many clinics. Click here to find a testing site near you or call the NY State HIV Hotline at 1-800-541-2437.

So, the next time your healthcare provider offers an HIV test…SAY YES TO THE TEST! 

Click on the options below for more information.
National HIV Testing Day
HIV Facts and Statistics
Anonymous HIV Testing
New York State HIV Hot Line