National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) is observed on June 27th each year to emphasize and encourage HIV testing. Approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV. Early HIV diagnosis is crucial. According to the CDC, about 1 in 7 people with HIV in the United States do not know that they are infected.
The NHTD theme for 2022 is “HIV Testing is Self-care.” HIV testing is an act of self-care, and knowledge of status is the gateway to engaging in prevention or treatment services that enable individuals, regardless of their status, to live a long and healthy life.
Everyone aged 13-64 should be tested at least once. People at higher risk of acquiring (or exposure to) HIV should be tested at least annually. HIV disproportionately impacts minorities and the LGBT+ community. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from testing every 3-6 months.
Heartland Community Health Center is the only clinic in Lawrence and Douglas County, Kansas, to offer point-of-care (rapid) HIV testing. Rapid tests are often referred to as point-of-care tests because rather than sending a blood sample to a laboratory, the test can be conducted and the result read in a doctor’s office or a community setting, without specialized laboratory equipment.
Most point-of-care tests require a tiny sample of blood (the fingertip is pricked with a lancet). They are called ‘rapid’ tests because the result can usually be given within a few minutes.
In addition to multiple testing options, Heartland can also prescribe PrEP medication. PrEP is a pill that reduces the risk of getting HIV when taken as prescribed. Fewer than 25% of the approximately 1 million Americans who could benefit from PrEP are using this preventative medication.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is medicine taken to prevent getting HIV. PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV when taken as prescribed.
- PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99%.
- PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from injection drug use by at least 74%.
“There is no shame in getting tested for HIV,” said Rhonda Dye, Medical Case Manager & Ryan White Coordinator at Heartland Community Health Center. “Getting tested and talking about HIV, are some of the ways we can all help end the stigma and work to end the HIV epidemic.”
Heartland provides integrated health care for persons living with HIV infection and participates in the Ryan White Program. The Ryan White program helps Kansans with HIV who have a family income at or below 400% of federal poverty guidelines access important health services. These services include primary medical care, medication assistance, health insurance assistance, mental health counseling, substance use treatment, dental care, case management, and other HIV-related medical and support services.
Heartland can also provide all these services on a sliding scale to those who do not qualify for the Ryan White program. All patients, regardless of income or insurance status, have access to the resources needed to monitor and treat infection, in order to achieve the highest quality of life possible.
To learn more about HIV prevention, testing, and treatment, contact Heartland at 785.841.7297.