June 27th is National HIV Testing Day

June 27th marks National HIV Testing Day, an opportunity to raise awareness and support for those affected by HIV/AIDS. By understanding testing options and treatment advancements, we can combat stigma and provide essential care and assistance to those in need. This day emphasizes the importance of testing, education, and advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

HIV Testing Methods 

HIV Rapid Tests (Antibody blood tests)

Antibody tests are among the most common types of HIV tests. These are also known as an HIV Rapid Test, as the results can be determined within 30 minutes if an available lab is onsite. If samples are sent to a lab, it typically takes a couple of days to receive your results. 

Note: it can take up to 3 months after the initial infection for a positive result – sometimes even longer. Usually, if there’s a confirmation, they’ll test again just to be sure.

HIV Early Detection Tests (Combination Tests)

Combination – or early detection tests – can detect both HIV antibodies and HIV antigens in your blood. It’s the recommended test for HIV testing these days, but some practices solely run antibody tests.

Managing HIV/AIDS

Medication Advancements

These days, there are a plethora of medications available to fight the advancement of the infection than in previous years. HIV medicines can keep people’s immune systems healthier for many years than we once thought possible.

Even the ability to transmit HIV to others can be reduced with medicine. HIV Antiretroviral therapy (ART) medication reduces the amount of HIV cells found in the blood. It’s a tactic called “viral suppression” that’s not only good for the infected person’s overall health, but also decreases the chance of passing the virus on. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and HIV.gov have a lot of great resources available for those with a positive HIV diagnosis.

Preventative Measures 

Does that mean if you have a partner with HIV, you either have to accept that you’ll contract HIV or will have to practice abstinence? Not quite. Thanks to modern medicine, multiple preventative measures help fight HIV in partnerships where one partner has the virus and one does not.

  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a regimen of daily HIV medicines to prevent HIV infection if you’re at high risk. For example, if your partner has HIV, your doctor may recommend PrEP as a preventative measure.
  • There’s also Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) which is a regimen of HIV medications taken after potential exposure to the virus. PEP may prevent infection after engaging in risky behavior like unprotected sex with an HIV-positive partner. Every second counts in this prevention method, so skipping pills can have serious consequences.

Ending the Stigma

HIV/AIDS has played a major role in American society since the 1980s. From the AIDS crisis to the development of medications that help manage HIV, we’ve come a very long way.

Anyone can get HIV, and it’s important to take precautions, as well as support people who are infected with the virus. Although HIV is a life-changing diagnosis, many people lead happy, productive lives with HIV.

Do your part to help prevent HIV get tested and see what your city or local municipality is doing to celebrate National HIV Testing Day on June 27th so you can support the cause.

Take Action 

Support National HIV Testing Day on June 27th by getting tested and advocating for awareness. Utilize resources from health departments, public health organizations, and social media campaigns to spread awareness and encourage testing.

At our Urgent Care centers, we offer HIV testing at all centers. 

Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant on June 4th 2024