Modified: June 20, 2018 4:08pm
From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein
Date: June 20, 2018
CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov
Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925
National HIV Testing Day
Do You Know Your HIV Status?
ERIE COUNTY, NY— ERIE COUNTY, NY—Wednesday, June 27th is National HIV Testing Day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (“CDC”), about 1 in 7 people in the United States who have HIV do not know their status.
National HIV Testing Day is an annual occasion to encourage people to get an HIV test. CDC recommends that everyone over the ages of 13 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. About 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV; many people have HIV for years before they get a diagnosis. For those living with undiagnosed HIV, testing is the first step in maintaining a healthy life and reducing HIV transmission.
“Because of effective treatments, people are living long and healthy lives with HIV. It is extremely important to start treatment as soon as a person learns that they are infected with HIV,” stated Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. “Over half of young people between the ages of 13-24 living with HIV are unaware of their infection. This is why we strongly encourage everyone to be tested to know their HIV status.”
WHY SHOULD YOU GET TESTED?
- If you learn you have HIV, it is recommended that you start treatment as soon as possible. This will lower the levels of HIV in your body to undetectable, protect your immune system from damage, and stop you from getting ill. If you maintain an undetectable viral load, there would be a negligible risk of transmitting HIV through sex to an HIV-negative partner (undetectable = not transmittable).
- If you learn you do not have HIV, you can take steps to make sure that you remain negative. Today, there are many powerful interventions available to prevent HIV. You may consider starting HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (“PrEP”). PrEP is a way for people who are not infected with HIV, but who are at substantial risk of infection, to prevent HIV infection by taking one pill every day. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injectable drug use, this medicine works to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection. When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 92%.
- ECDOH’s PrEP Prescribing Clinic is a walk in clinic located at 608 William St., Buffalo, 14206 (716) 858-7687.
ECDOH’s HIV Counseling & Testing program, located at 608 William St. in Buffalo, 14206, provides confidential, FREE HIV tests for Erie County residents. Teenagers do not need parental consent to have an HIV test. Testing services are available Monday through Thursday 8:30am-11:30am & 1:00pm-3:30 pm, and Friday 10:00 am-11:30 am and 1:00 pm-3:30 pm. No appointments are taken; patients are seen on a first come, first served walk-in basis. Contact the clinic at 716-858-7687 for additional information.
There are many other actions you can take to prevent getting or transmitting HIV:
- Talk to your doctor about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you think you have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours and are not on PrEP
- Use condoms the right way every time you have sex.
- Learn the right way to use a male condom or a female condom. ECDOH distributes free condoms at numerous sites—check here for location near you.
- Choose less risky sexual behavior
- Limit your number of sexual partners
- Get tested and treated for other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Never share syringes or other equipment to inject drugs (works)
Abstinence (not having sex) and not sharing syringes (or works) are the only 100% effective ways to prevent HIV.
Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to help keep you and your partner healthy. Join us on National HIV Testing Day to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and early diagnosis of HIV.
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