November 21, 2016
November 17, 2015
Actor Charlie Sheen’s announcement that he is HIV positive is once again putting HIV/AIDS in the headlines. HIV is not often in the news cycle, 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 told TODAY Show host Matt Lauer in describing 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 healthcare 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 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.
Free HIV testing without an appointment is available Monday-Thursday, 9-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m.; Friday 9-11 a.m. at 554 North Duke St., 3rd floor, Lancaster, across from Lancaster General Hospital.
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.