June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. Do You Know Your Status?

With focus on the coronavirus pandemic, many people seem to have forgotten about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. During the pandemic, fewer people have been coming in to testing sites, a concern for health care providers.

Nationally, 42% of all new HIV infections, the virus that causes AIDS, are in people younger than 25 years old. In Michigan, more than 380 new HIV cases are diagnosed in young people each year, and most of them live in Detroit.

Last year, the state reported that of all 15–29-year-olds living with and newly diagnosed with HIV, 60% are among young Black men. But men ages 30-59 are most affected by HIV, the report said.

National HIV Testing Day is on June 27, a time to promote awareness around HIV and AIDS and to make sure you know your HIV status.

HIV tests are available at The Wellness Plan Medical Centers, the Detroit Health Department and many other locations around the city. Home testing kits also are more readily available at retail stores such as Walgreens and Target.

More advances are being made in HIV testing, treatment and vaccine research.

For example, a pre-exposure prophylaxis, when taken as prescribed, can reduce the chances of contracting HIV through sex by up to 99% and could end the epidemic.

But some public health officials report that too few doctor’s offices or care centers offer the HIV prevention drug, PrEP, a single oral tablet for men who have sex with men and are HIV-negative.

Additionally, the HIV Vaccine Trials Network recently launched a new HIV awareness campaign and unveiled a first of its kind national registry that provides updated HIV information and makes it easier to learn about and participate in HIV clinical trials at HelpEndHIV.org.

The campaign is designed to increase awareness—especially among younger people—that HIV remains a major health issue. Recent research for the campaign launched in May shows that many Americans don’t know that HIV is still a health issue in the United States and are unsure if they might be vulnerable to infections. Some people responded that they don’t know if there is a cure for HIV.

Since there isn’t a cure, researchers are working to build on the momentum from the highly successful COVID-19 clinical trials. So the “Help End HIV” campaign is paired with the launch of the Red Ribbon Registry, a unique and consumer friendly volunteer database designed to match people who are HIV-negative and interested in supporting HIV vaccine research with HIV clinical trials in their communities.

The work is critical because a new study published June 7 in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that people who are HIV-positive are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection even if they are vaccinated and boosted. Some may need additional doses of Covid-19 vaccinations, the report said.

To find an HIV testing site near you, visit locator.hiv.gov.

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