Increasing HIV prevention and treatment options make it more important than ever to get tested and know your status.
National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
September 27 is National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a time to reflect on the heavy toll of HIV among gay and bisexual men and acknowledge the contributions they have made in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Since the first cases of AIDS were reported in five gay men in 1981, gay and bisexual men across the United States have been at the center of the U.S. epidemic. Gay and bisexual men bear the greatest burden of this disease, accounting for almost two-thirds of all new infections in 2010. Yet, they also have been at the forefront of fighting this disease. Many have helped shape the research agenda and worked with organizations that provide HIV services.
Getting More Men Tested and Treated
Photo: HIV/AIDS testing campaignToo many gay and bisexual men with HIV—more than one-third—are HIV positive and don’t know it. Knowing one’s status and getting linked to treatment if positive are critical to protecting one’s own health and that of one’s sexual partner(s).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone at high risk for HIV from sexual activity or injection drug use should be tested at least once a year. Sexually active gay men may benefit from more frequent testing, such as every 3 to 6 months.
HIV testing has never been easier. Today’s, rapid tests are offered in clinics and at many other settings—like Pride events or community service organizations—with results in as little as 20 minutes. Two home testing kits are also available online or from drugstores; one is a rapid test.
A new testing initiative is now available in some U.S. cities called Testing TogetherExternal Web Site Icon. This strategy gives gay and bisexual men the option to get tested together through local HIV/AIDS organizations and health departments. Once the couple learns their HIV status, they can develop an HIV prevention plan just for them.
Testing is one step to help stop the spread of HIV and ensure better health. But there are many more. If you know your status, get treatment if positive; if not, take steps to keep it that way. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) coupled with a health maintenance plan can help ensure persons living with HIV live a longer, healthier life. Men who stay on ART and who have suppressed viral load also are much less likely to spread the virus to their partners—up to 96% less likely. But staying on treatment and taking it exactly as prescribed are key.
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