One Treasure Coast Presents “National HIV Testing Day”

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National HIV Testing Day June 27th

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HIV Testing: Deeper than Negative & Positive BY JOAN LLANES & DANIELLE HOUSTON  ·  JUNE 25, 2015

June 27th is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD).  Created in 1995 by the National Association of People with AIDS, NHTD was started to promote HIV testing. NHTD encourages people to get tested and take control over their health. The annual theme is Take the Test. Take Control. The day provides an opportunity to educate communities about the importance of HIV prevention, testing and linkage to care. It’s also a time to explore the important issues around why so many people, despite free tests, quick results, and easy access, still resist or delay taking an HIV test.   Disproportions in Testing for People of Color The CDC estimates that 1 in 5 African Americans living with HIV are unaware of their status and over a third of Latinos receive an AIDS diagnosis within one year of testing positive. The reasons behind why people of color don’t get tested or delay testing are complicated, but many agree that stigma and fear are major factors. An unwillingness to take an HIV test means that more people are diagnosed late- causing unnecessary illness, delayed treatment, increased likelihood of transmitting HIV to others, and potentially early death.
Within communities of color, specifically, African American and Latino, there are still deep-rooted fears around what it means to test HIV positive and that HIV will be another way in which they will be judged harshly and face discrimination. In these same communities of color, where poor access and strained relationships with the healthcare system are frequent issues, there remain many misconceptions about risk; a 2011 study showed that 69% of HIV-infected patients said they weren’t tested earlier because they didn’t think they were at risk. So how do we separate the myths from reality? How do we educate and encourage people to get tested and know their status? These are some of the questions we try to address through National HIV Testing Day.
What do HIV test results truly tell us? Technically, an HIV test detects HIV-specific antibodies; these antibodies are the body’s signal that it has been infected with HIV. But socially and emotionally, the results of an HIV test can mean vastly different things.

What does it mean for a person to test HIV NEGATIVE? What does it mean for a person to test HIV POSITIVE?
• It means they are not infected with HIV • It means they are infected with HIV
• It doesn’t mean they have not been exposed to HIV • It doesn’t mean they can determine when or how they became infected
• It doesn’t mean they are immune or incapable of contracting HIV • It doesn’t mean it’s too late for medical care, HIV is treatable
• It doesn’t mean the activities they are engaging in are not putting them at risk of contracting HIV • It doesn’t mean or imply anything about their values, lifestyle or personality

In many situations, misinformation and peoples’ misconceptions of what an HIV test will tell them are additional reasons they don’t get tested. Importantly, whether an individual tests negative or positive, HIV is a medical diagnosis and not a moral indicator.
Reaching People of Color It’s important to focus efforts to educate and remind people to get tested and know their status so that:

  • If they test HIV negative, they can take active precautions to remain negative and reduce future risks; this includes condoms, PrEP and talking to their partners about their HIV status.
  • If they test HIV positive, they can take active precautions to remain healthy; this includes early initiation of HIV treatment, treatment adherence and remaining in care.

Community-based organizations  (CBO) serve as a significant outreach agents within communities of color to encourage and disseminate testing messages. This can be achieved through a myriad of methods:

Celebrate the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision on King v. Burwell that upholds ACA in all states!

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Today, we celebrate the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision on King v. Burwell that upholds ACA health-insurance subsidies in all states! The decision protects health care access for the 6.5 million Americans currently received federal subsidies for insurance plans purchased through the federal exchange and firmly establishes the ACA as the law of the land.

Since its passage, the ACA has helped millions of people get more affordable insurance and gain health coverage for the first time, including many people living with HIV.

Despite the ruling, ACA opponents in Congress – who have tried 56 times to repeal the law – continue to call for defunding and dismantling the health care system. AIDS United joins advocates across the country in saying Enough is Enough. The ACA is the law of the land. Opponents in Congress should stop getting in the way and start working with their colleagues to ensure the successful implementation of the law.