HIV/AIDS is Rarely in the Headlines…and That’s a Good Thing

Charlie Sheen

Actor Charlie Sheen’s 2015 announcement that he is HIV positive put HIV/AIDS in the headlines; something that is now rare, largely because when diagnosed early, the disease can be successfully treated and managed. Many people are now living long, productive lives with HIV.

3 Letters you Need to Know

“It’s a hard three letters to absorb. It’s a turning point in one’s life,” Sheen said in an interview shortly after his HIV diagnosis.

However, they are three vitally important letters to know. And testing is the only way to be certain about your HIV status.

Today, more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV. About 1 in 8 are unaware they are infected. This number is much larger for people under the age of 30--about 60% are unaware they are HIV-infected.

Get Tested. Get in Control

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that providers in all health-care settings make HIV testing a routine part of medical care for people ages 13 to 64, and more often for those at greater risk. Ask your family doctor, primary care provider, or OB/GYN about getting an HIV test.

All Lancaster General Health Physicians primary care practices can do HIV testing. Most offices use a blood test which provides results in 24 hours. HIV screening is covered by health insurance without a copay, as required by the Affordable Care Act.

Testing puts you in control. When you know your HIV status:

  • You can make informed decisions about your sexual behavior, how to stay safe, and how to protect others.
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you can learn ways to protect your baby from becoming infected.
  • If you are HIV-positive, you can start taking medicine and other steps to improve your health, prolong your life, and reduce your chance of spreading HIV. It’s never too early to start treatment.

Free Walk-in HIV Testing

LG Health Physicians Comprehensive Care offers walk-in, needleless HIV testing that is fast, free, and confidential. Comprehensive Care offers the ORA Quick rapid HIV test that requires only an oral (mouth) swab. Results are available in 20 minutes. 

Staying HIV-negative

We must not lose sight of the fact that HIV infection is preventable. Prevention interventions such as the use of condoms and education on safe sex practices are key in staying HIV-negative. CDC data released last year actually showed a 10% decrease in new HIV diagnoses from 2008 to 2012—the first true decline in new infections since HIV has been reportable in all 50 states.

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Jeffrey T. Kirchner, DO, FAAFP

Jeffrey T. Kirchner, DO, FAAFP, AAHIVS, is the medical director of Lancaster General Health Physicians Comprehensive Care, and provides HIV/AIDS medical care and education to patients, families, healthcare providers, and the community.

Education: A graduate of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Kirchner is board-certified in family medicine and as an HIV specialist by the American Academy of HIV Medicine.

Call: 717-544-4943

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.

 

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