By Jessica Simon, JCFS Psychological Services diagnostic extern
I will be honest. To the best of my knowledge, I do not personally know anyone who has HIV, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t important to me or that I don’t think about it. Health is very important to me, as it should be for everyone.
The CDC recommends that everyone ages 13-64 be tested once for HIV. It is safe to say that almost everyone reading this blog post is within this age demographic, and how many of us have never been tested for HIV? I bet not many have. I also bet most of you don’t think you have anything to worry about. You’re thinking “I’ve been safe,” or “I’ve never done intravenous drugs” or “I’m straight,” therefore putting you outside of the at-risk groups. The fact of the matter is, though, that more than one million Americans are living with the HIV infection, and about one in five don’t even know it. What do you think about that?!
It seems to me that most people consider themselves invisible when it comes to HIV—“It will never happen to me”—and I can admit that I am probably guilty of it myself. Sadly, this type of denial can be dangerous. According to the CDC, at least 1 in 3 Americans who test positive for HIV are tested too late to get the full advantage of treatment. Much like other serious illnesses, early HIV testing reduces the spread of virus, lengthens life expectancy, and decreases costs of care. In these modern times, when technology and medicine have come such a long way, it is sad that people are not getting tested and taking their health seriously, “at-risk” or not. People with HIV or AIDS are living longer, healthier, less stigmatized lives. So what are you waiting for? Take a step towards better health and set a good example for your family, friends, and children—Go get tested today!
Here are some resources to help you find a place to get tested near you, and some ways you can bring awareness to this cause.
- Get tested for HIV—go to the CDC’s HIV test location website to find a place in your community; if you are considered to be “at-risk,” you should try to get tested at least once a year.
- Take action on social issues that increase the risk of HIV (Poverty, homelessness, racism, sexism, and discrimination against individuals who are gay or bisexual).
- Support HIV testing and actions to make it more readily available.
- Encourage your doctor to offer patients HIV tests as a routine part of their health care and help get them connected to appropriate services if their patients are at high risk.
- Support funding and get involved with fundraising efforts.
- Educate yourself and others!! Spring into action:
- Seek a supportive environment. JCFS offers many services that can be of assistance to those in distress. Visit the JCFS website or call 1.855.ASK.JCFS to inquire about how we can help.
Photo Credit: Examiner.com