Tuesday was National HIV Testing Day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than a million people in the United States are living with HIV, and that number grows by almost 50,000 every year. One in seven people who have HIV don’t know it. That means they aren’t getting the medical care they need to stay healthy and avoid passing HIV to others.
The CDC recommends that anyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once in their lifetime, and those that may be at higher risk get tested more often. A general rule for those with any risk factors is to get tested at least once a year.
“Knowledge is power, and getting an HIV test has never been more important,” says Noelle Bissell, M.D. director of the New River Health District. “Most new HIV infections occur in people who don’t know their HIV status, so early detection of HIV is crucial for HIV-positive persons to remain in good health.”
Free and low-cost testing options are available, and some provide results in as little as one minute. The Virginia Department of Health offers free, confidential HIV testing at local health departments in Christiansburg (210 S. Pepper St.) and Radford (220 E. Main St.). For more information or to make an appointment, call 540-585-3300 (Christiansburg) or 540-267-8255 (Radford).
“Take some time out of your day to get your test for HIV,” said Dr. Bissell. “Together, we can all do our part to end the HIV epidemic in Virginia.”