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National HIV Testing Day

National HIV Testing Day
June 27, 2011 has been dedicated to National HIV Testing.  This annual campaign was created by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) to encourage people of all ages to “Take the Test, Take Control.”
NAPWA was one of the first AIDS organizations to advocate that people at risk of infections seek out voluntary HIV counseling and testing.  In 1995 NAPWA launched the National HIV Testing Day (hivtest.org).
Finding out if you are infected with HIV is the first step to improving your health and the health of your partners and your family.

The Facts
Content provided by hivtest.org

  • More than one million people are living with HIV in the U.S.
  • One out of five of those infected with HIV are unaware.
  • Currently, almost 40 percent of people with HIV are not diagnosed until they have already developed AIDS. 
  • In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out with a report recommending all people between the ages 13 to 64 years of age be tested for this virus.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) - How it is spread
Regardless of whether or not one who is infected by the virus is having symptoms, it can still be spread.  The spread of HIV can occur when these secretions come in contact with tissues, such as;

  • Vagina lining
  • Anal area
  • Mouth
  • Eyes
  • Break in the skin (cuts, or punctures by needles)

HIV is transmitted the most today by;

  • Sexual contact.
    • Vaginal
    • Anal
    • Oral
  • Sharing needles.
  • The transmission from infected mothers to newborns during pregnancy, labor, or breastfeeding.

HIV Symptoms
Within weeks of infection, many people begin to develop varied symptoms of primary or acute infections, which have been described similar to influenza.  The symptoms can range from:

  • Fever.
  • Aching of the muscles or joints.
  • Sore throat.
  • Swollen glands (lymph nodes) in the neck.

HIV, in some cases, can turn into AIDS within a year after exposure, although some people remain free of AIDS for up to 20 years after infection.  However, the initial time period of the HIV infection turning into AIDS is 8 to10 years (HIVtest.org).
Why the progression of developing AIDS is different from person to person is still under active research (medicinenet.com).

How to Avoid HIV

  • Abstinence
    • Abstinence until both partners have been tested and cleared.
    • Both partners would need to test negative for at least 12 and up to 24 weeks after their last potential exposure to HIV.
  • Use latex condoms
  • Dental dam

What Test are Used to Diagnose HIV?
The test most commonly used for diagnosing HIV finds HIV antibodies, the results must be confirmed, by a test called the Western blot. Recently some test have been approved to check for HIV by using saliva, some providing results in nearly 20 minutes of testing.

Window Period
Antibodies to HIV typically take a few weeks to develop after being exposed to the infection.  Usually the test will result in negative if taken within this window period. 

Recently a new test has been approved to that evaluates both the HIV antibodies and p24 antigen, shrinking the “window period” of diagnosis to infection.

Please check with your local testing centers or your primary care physician to find which test is right for you.
Sources:
http://www.hivtest.org/press_files/Default.aspx
http://www.medicinenet.com/human_immunodeficiency_virus_hiv_aids/article.htm
http://www.medicinenet.com/human_immunodeficiency_virus_hiv_aids/page2.htm
http://www.medicinenet.com/human_immunodeficiency_virus_hiv_aids/page3.htm
http://www.hivtest.org/press_files/about.aspx

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