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 both preventable for those who don’t have it, and manageable for those who do,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “Everyone benefits from knowing their HIV status, but testing is even more important for those who engage in high-risk sexual behaviors or injection drug use. When you get tested, you aren’t just taking a step to protect yourself – you are protecting those close to you.”
In 2016, preliminary numbers show 413 Indiana residents were newly diagnosed with HIV, while 94 were diagnosed with AIDS. Nearly 80 percent of those newly diagnosed individuals were men. A total of 12,175 Indiana residents were living with HIV or AIDS at the end of 2016.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly 13 percent of Americans 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 infection.
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.hiv.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.hiv.gov. To find testing events in Indiana, go to http://www.in.gov/isdh/17397.htm.
For more information about HIV, visit http://www.cdc.gov/actagainstaids/basics/whatishiv.html. Additional details about HIV in Indiana can be found using Stats Explorer at https://gis.in.gov/apps/isdh/statsexplorer.
Indiana residents concerned about their HIV status can contact the HIV Services Hotline at (866) 588-4948. 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.