State health officials are urging Hoosiers to learn their HIV status as part of National HIV Testing Day on June 27.
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, weakens a person’s immune system by destroying cells that fight disease and infection. It can be transmitted sexually, through shared drug injection equipment and through blood, breast milk and other bodily fluids. HIV can progress to a severe condition called acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS.
Though there is no cure for HIV, it can be successfully managed as a chronic disease with proper medical care. Testing and early participation in HIV care are critical parts of managing HIV infections and preventing the spread of disease.
“HIV is a preventable disease and one that can be managed long-term with medication,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “Every Hoosier would benefit from knowing their HIV status, but testing is especially important for people who engage in high-risk sexual behaviors and injection drug use. By getting tested, Hoosiers can protect their own health and that of those close to them.”
In 2015, 543 Indiana residents were newly diagnosed with HIV, while 78 were diagnosed with AIDS. Nearly a fourth of those newly diagnosed individuals were women. A total of 11,704 Indiana residents were living with HIV or AIDS at the end of 2015.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 13 percent of people living with HIV do not know their status. That means they are not accessing testing and medical care that can keep them healthy and protect their loved ones from getting infected.
HIV can be detected through testing of oral fluids and blood. Health care providers, local health departments and other entities can provide testing. To find a testing site near you as part of National HIV Testing Day, visit https://www.aids.gov/locator/ and enter your ZIP code.
Individuals who are not infected with HIV but who engage in high-risk behaviors can receive medication that lowers their risk of contracting the virus. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, can reduce the risk of getting HIV through sexual contact by more than 90 percent and through injection drug use by more than 70 percent. Talk to your doctor about whether PrEP is right for you.
To learn more about National HIV Testing Day, visit www.aids.gov. To find testing events in Indiana, go to http://www.in.gov/isdh/files/Testing_Day_Events(3).pdf.
For more information about HIV, go to http://www.cdc.gov/actagainstaids/basics/whatishiv.html. Additional details about HIV in Indiana in 2015 can be found at http://www.in.gov/isdh/26935.htm.
Any Indiana resident concerned about their HIV status can contact the HIV Services Hotline at (866) 588-4948. Remember, the only way to know if you have HIV is to be tested!
Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.
SOURCE: News release from Indiana State Department of Health