Reducing the Stigma of HIV Testing
The hopes of creating an AIDS-free generation are getting stronger with every passing year. Today, more than ten million people receive treatment for HIV, more than 25 countries have reduced new HIV infection rates by 50 percent, and far fewer people are dying from the disease than ever before. However, there is still plenty more work to be done, particularly for identifying and treating HIV in young adults and teens.
Of the 50,000 people infected with HIV each year, one in four are between the ages of 13 and 24 years old. According to the CDC, of those youth infected, as many as 60% may not know they’re HIV-positive. This is largely because HIV testing is not routinely performed during regular health exams in America, or across the globe.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is working on improving the number of HIV tests given to people under the age of 18 (the age when people are most likely to contract and spread HIV). Under the new draft quality standard, HIV tests would be administered to people when they are admitted to a hospital or urgent care center. Young people and adults would also be offered HIV tests when they having a blood test conducted for other health reasons.
“There can be stigma and fear around having an HIV test. This needs to change so that HIV testing is seen as routine practice. This new draft quality standard sets out clear, practical steps to help encourage and increase the uptake of HIV testing,” said Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care at NICE.
Though NICE is currently only operating in the UK, they believe that this new standard will substantially reduce the number of people who unknowingly have HIV. They soon expect other countries to follow in their footsteps by adopting this standard.
Preventing Infection Rates Among Youth
The best way to prevent the spread of HIV is to take away the stigma associated with it. Often, the best way to do this is through open dialogue and practical information, either from a school, community-based group, or family member.
- limit risky behavior — which includes unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners.
- get tested for HIV if they engage in sexual activity or drug use.
- attend and participate in HIV prevention programs.
- seek treatment if they find out they are HIV-positive.
- inform their partners about their HIV status and know the status of their partners.
Parents and families should…
- talk openly with their children about ways to prevent the spread of HIV.
- encourage youth to get tested regularly.
- request HIV and safe-sex courses be taught in schools.
- encourage their community to offer HIV and STI testing and treatment.
CIRCLE CARE Center provides comprehensive and state-of-the-art HIV/AIDS care and support. Patients have a choice of providers and a range of services that are available at our clinic, including 20-minute HIV and Hepatitis C testing, HIV education, Sexual Health Counseling, and so much more.