In recognition of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, the Peoria City/County Health Department encourages local residents to get tested for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the virus that causes AIDS.
“The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested,” states Greg Chance, Administrator for Peoria City/County Health Dept. “Many people with HIV don’t have any early symptoms. In the United States, 1 in 5 people living with HIV don’t know they have it. Even if you don’t feel sick, getting tested and getting early treatment for HIV is important: early treatment can help you live a longer, healthier life. I encourage people to take the test and take control.”
In 2011, there were 32 new cases of HIV diagnosed and 765 individuals living with HIV/AIDS in the Peoria Region of 15 area counties. An increased number of people diagnosed with HIV now occurs in individuals in their late teens and early twenties; previously most diagnosis occurred in middle aged adults.
HIV is spread through some of the body’s fluids, like blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. HIV is passed from one person to another by:
• Having unprotected sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) with a person who has HIV
• Sharing needles with someone who has HIV
• Breastfeeding, pregnancy, or childbirth if the mother has HIV
• Getting a blood transfusion that has HIV (very rare in the U.S.)
Chance further states, “More than half of American adults have never been tested for HIV. We can use National HIV Testing Day on June 27 to raise awareness about how people can take the test and take control. Every time someone gets tested for HIV, everyone wins.
• People who find out they are HIV-negative can take steps to stay HIV-free.
• People who find out they are HIV-positive can get early treatment to help them live longer, healthier lives. They can also take steps to protect their partners’ health.
• Every new HIV infection prevented can save up to $367,000 per person in lifetime medical costs.”
To schedule an HIV test, call Peoria City/County Health Department at 679-6030. For more information on public health issues, visit the Peoria City/County Health Department’s website at www.pcchd.org.