National HIV Testing Day
This year’s theme, Doing It My Way, is a call to action that encourages people to get tested for HIV in a way that is comfortable for them. You can test at your health care provider’s office, at another testing site, or even at home. You can test alone or go with a partner, friend, or family member. However you choose to do it, get tested and know your current HIV status.
About 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV, and 1 in 7 of them don’t know they have it. People with HIV need to get a diagnosis as soon as possible so they can get treatment. Taking HIV medicine as prescribed can keep them healthy and protect their partners. According to a recent report, nearly 40% of new HIV transmissions in 2016 came from people who didn’t know they had HIV.
CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care and those at high risk get tested at least once a year. Some sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (every 3 to 6 months).
Join us on NHTD to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and early diagnosis of HIV. Share on social media why and how you are getting tested. Use the hashtag #DoingItMyWay. NHTD is also the perfect time to offer support to people who have HIV and fight HIV stigma!
On this day, we also urge everyone to learn more about the proposed federal initiative Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for Americaexternal icon, which gives us hope that new HIV diagnoses can be dramatically reduced in the U.S. in the next decade. With today’s powerful tools, we can prevent HIV and help people with HIV stay healthy.
What Can You Do?
Get the facts. Learn about HIV, and share this information with your family, friends, and community.
Get tested. The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. To find a testing site near you, use the Doing It testing locator, text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948), or call 1-800-CDC-INFO. You can also use a home testing kit, available in drugstores or online.
If you have HIV, start treatment as soon as possible after you get a diagnosis. The most important thing you can do is take HIV medicine as prescribed by your doctor.
HIV medicine lowers the amount of virus (viral load) in your body, and taking it every day can make your viral load undetectable. If you get and keep an undetectable viral load, you can stay healthy for many years, and you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV through sex to an HIV-negative partner. To make sure you keep an undetectable viral load, take your medicine as prescribed, and see your provider regularly to monitor your health.
If you know you are HIV-negative, the following activities are highly effective to help prevent HIV:
- Taking medicine to prevent HIV (pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP) if you are HIV-negative and at high risk for getting the virus. Use the PrEP locator to find a PrEP provider in your area.
- Using condoms the right way every time you have anal or vaginal sex. Check out the condom locator to find free condoms near you.
- Never sharing syringes or other equipment to inject drugs (for example, cookers).
- Abstaining from sex (not having sex) and not sharing syringes or other injection equipment are 100% effective ways to make sure you won’t get HIV from sex or injecting drugs.
The following actions can also help lower your risk of getting HIV:
- Limiting your number of sex partners.
- Getting tested and treated for other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Choosing activities with little to no risk, like oral sex.
You can learn more about how to protect yourself and your partners and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).
Get involved. Doing It is a national HIV testing and prevention campaign designed to motivate all adults to get tested for HIV and know their status. Learn more about the campaign and join the conversation using the hashtag #DoingItMyWay.
What Can CDC Partners Do?
Health departments, community-based organizations (CBOs), and other partners can:
- download the NHTD resources to share messages related to HIV testing and prevention;
- screen for HIV risk and test those at high risk at least once a year;
- link patients to care or prescribe HIV treatment as soon as possible after they get an HIV diagnosis and help them stay in care;
- expand the reach of HIV prevention programs or discuss HIV prevention options with patients;
- participate in the Prescribe HIV Prevention program, which helps reduce HIV incidence in the United States by prescribing or linking patients to PrEP if they are at very high risk for HIV, or to PEP if they may have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours;
- learn how CDC helps health departments and CBOs plan, implement, and evaluate HIV prevention programs; and
- address stigma and discrimination.