National HIV Testing Day is June 27, 2019. According to U.S. Statistics, approximately 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV today with 15% unaware that they are infected. Approximately 51% of persons aged 13-24 who are infected with HIV are undiagnosed. Men who have sex with men are statistically the most at risk group with an estimated 26,000 new cases each year.
Regionally, people living in the south are the most at risk, representing 52% of the 38,739 new HIV diagnoses in 2017. Since 2013, the Center for Disease Control has reported stable rates of infection after 5 years of decline. The CDC attributes the stagnation to effective HIV prevention and treatment not being readily available to disproportionately affected populations such as African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos, particularly in the south.
In February 2019, the U.S. government launched an initiative to end the HIV epidemic within the next 10 years. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a preventative treatment that has been shown to effectively reduce infection by 97%. HIV is still a serious diagnosis, but recent medical advancements in antiretroviral medicine have allowed people to live and thrive with HIV. By taking medications as prescribed, persons living with HIV can maintain an undetectable viral load, with effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV. Furthermore, women who are pregnant can significantly decrease the likelihood of transmitting HIV to their children if they begin treatment early in their pregnancies.
Modern HIV testing has been shown to be highly effective. Students at Georgia State University, have access to free testing on campus. Call 404-413-1577 to set up your appointment with Student Health Promotion, which has partnered with Georgia Department of Public Health and Fulton and Dekalb counties to provide services. At your appointment, blood will be taken from a prick in your finger, and you will be given results within one minute. If the test is positive, a sample will be sent to a lab for confirmation. If the result is negative, you either do not have HIV or it is too soon to tell. In addition to appointments at Student Health Promotion, students can also get tested by the Healthy State Mobile Clinic on the Perimeter campuses. The clinic also stops by each Georgia State University perimeter campuses during the fall and spring semesters approximately once per month. Remember Panthers, all testing is confidential. Knowing your HIV status is part of living an aware and healthy life.