Take the test, take control

In 1995, the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) founded National HIV testing day on June 27th.  Seventeen years later, this group continues to front this observance. The main goal of this day of awareness is to encourage people of all ages to “take the test, take control”.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, know as AIDS.  Too many people don’t know they have HIV. In the United States, nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV, and almost one in five don’t know they are infected. Getting tested is the first step to finding out if you have HIV. If you have HIV, getting medical care and taking medicines regularly helps you live a longer, healthier life and also lowers the chances of passing HIV on to others.

While there have been great strides in the prevention of HIV transmission and care of HIV infection and AIDS since AIDS was first recognized in 1981, many people still have questions about HIV and AIDS.  Here are a few frequently asked questions surrounding the testing process:

How do HIV tests work?

The most common HIV tests use blood to detect HIV infection. Tests using saliva or urine are also available. Some tests take a few days for results, but rapid HIV tests can give results in about 20 minutes. All positive HIV tests must be followed up by another test to confirm the positive result. Results of this confirmatory test can take a few days to a few weeks

Should I get a HIV test?

The following are behaviors that increase your chances of getting HIV. If you answer yes to any of them, you should definitely get a HIV test. Talk to a health care provider about a HIV testing for more information.

  • Have you injected drugs or steroids or shared equipment (such as needles, syringes, works) with others?
  • Have you had unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with men who have sex with men, multiple partners, or anonymous partners?
  • Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis, tuberculosis (TB), or a sexually transmitted disease (STD), like syphilis?
  • Have you had unprotected sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions?

What if I test positive for HIV?

If you test positive for HIV, the sooner you take steps to protect your health, the better. Early medical treatment and a healthy lifestyle can help you stay well. Prompt medical care may delay the onset of AIDS and prevent some life-threatening conditions. There are a number of important steps you can take immediately to protect your health, the first step should be to see a licensed health care provider, even if you do not feel sick. Try to find a health care provider who has experience treating HIV. There are now many medications to treat HIV infection and help you maintain your health.

If you are looking for a testing center near you, check out this website which is a service of the center for disease control and prevention.  http://hivtest.cdc.gov/default.aspx In all health-care settings, screening for HIV infection should be performed routinely for all patients aged 13-64 years. If you are unsure of when your last HIV test was performed, asked your provider today!

Get tested at CHC!

CHC is not only offering rapid HIV testing today, their HIV/AIDS services have been providing comprehensive services for over 15 years.  They have specialist coverage in New Britain, Meriden, Clinton, and Middletown. In Middletown, CHC has the Oasis Wellness Center which serves as a place with medical case management services.  The Oasis center is a drop in hub for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS and provides a haven of support and services.  Free, confidential and anonymous HIV testing is available by appointment-please call (860) 347-6971 for testing information or to make an appointment at CHC.

In honor of today, Oasis employees are walking the streets of Middletown handing out condom packets with Oasis information and directing people into the new building to get a free rapid HIV test. There is also a booth set up in the lobby FILLED with informational handouts, and small trinkets promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. This will be happening  from 10am-3pm.

On December 1, 2011, the Oasis Wellness Center hosted a World AIDS day event to promote awareness. At that time, the director of the program stated that the number of patients receiving a HIV test in 2011 at CHC was 65% higher than the previous year! They did over 16,000 routine HIV tests by 12/1/11 and she noted that CHC’s screening and testing numbers are a testament to their commitment to HIV prevention, testing and care. Take the test, take control!

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