NEWS | June 23, 2016

National HIV Testing Day is June 27

By 1st Lt Alisha Harris 628th Aerospace Medicine Squadron

June 27th is National HIV Testing Day. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that infects the cells of the immune system by destroying or impairing their ability to fight off disease and infection.  If you are unsure of your status or have questions, come to the clinic to get the facts, get involved in your care and get tested.  Dependents of a service members enrolled at the clinic are also eligible to get tested. Testing can be accomplished on a walk-in basis from 7:30 am - 4 pm. Public Health will have a table outside of the Base Exchange on June 27th from 10 am - 4 pm with educational materials.

Wondering if you should get an HIV test?  The answer is YES!  While AFI 44-178, Human Immunodeficiency Virus Program, requires all active duty personnel to be screened for evidence of HIV every two years, dependents of service members should also receive regular HIV screening if engaging in unprotected sex (including anal or oral) or have multiple partners.

Magic Johnson, Rock Hudson and Charlie Sheen, each famous in their own right, have one additional thing in common--they were all diagnosed with HIV.  Even closer to home, South Carolina ranks 17th among the 50 states for the number of HIV positive residents per 10,000.  The most recent testing results from South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), shows rates of HIV are highest among individuals ages 25-34, followed by individuals ages 13-24.  Of the 16,312 people living with HIV in the state of South Carolina, 4,023 of them reside in the Lowcountry, with males accounting for more than 70 percent.
 
If left untreated, HIV can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).  HIV is transmitted through unprotected sex, sharing of contaminated needles, transfusion of contaminated blood and between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, HIV is mainly spread by anal and vaginal sex in the United States.

The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested.  Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to help take steps to keep you and your partner healthy.  No effective cure exists for HIV at this time.  To protect yourself from HIV and AIDS you should practice abstinence, limit your number of sexual partners, never share needles, use condoms the right way every time you have sex and most importantly know the status of your partner!