Rapid Testing for HIV/AIDS Urged
June 21, 2007
East Bay health officials are using National HIV Testing Day (June 27) to stress the importance and value of HIV/AIDS testing, especially for people at high risk for exposure.
"You Have the Power to Know," is Contra Costa Health Services' campaign that promotes rapid testing - with results available in 30 minutes - to help stop the disease from spreading and give people who are infected more options for treatment. The test can pick up HIV antibodies as early as two weeks after initial exposure.
(Information about where to get the rapid results test in Contra Costa is available at 800-287-0200 or online at cchealth.org)
"It is really important for people to know their HIV status. Many people who are HIV positive don't know they are because they have no symptoms. The earlier you know, the sooner you can get treatment and prevent others from being infected," says Carla Goad, HIV/AIDS Program Education and Services Supervisor.
HIV - human immunodeficiency virus - causes AIDS - acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. Goad says it can take years for a person infected with HIV to progress to AIDS. According to Goad, the U.S. Center for Disease Control now recommends that people between 13 and 64 years old have a routine HIV test and people at high risk have the test at least annually.
"The only way to know if you are HIV positive is to get tested. There are more treatment options and the time before progressing to AIDS can be extended if you know your status early in your infection," explains Goad.
She stresses that HIV is primarily found in the blood, semen, or vaginal fluid of an infected person and is transmitted by having sex (anal, vaginal, or oral) with someone infected with HIV; sharing needles and syringes with someone who is infected; and being exposed to HIV before or during birth or through breast feeding.
"The bottom line is that knowledge is power. Once you know you are HIV positive, you can take action to prevent the spread of HIV," Goad says.
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