June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. Does this mean this is the only day to think about HIV testing? Think again, Brutus. We just want all Buckeyes to be more aware of this important test. The CDC recommends that EVERYONE from age 13 to 64 be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime. If you have risk factors, such as multiple sexual partners, injecting drugs, or participating in higher risk sexual activity, then get tested at least once a year.
HIV takes about 3 months after infection to show up on a blood test, so if you have a risky encounter, you want to get tested a couple times in the months to follow, to catch the infection early.
Catching the infection early is the key. Early detection helps get infected people to medical care, which allows for treatment to help slow disease progression. In many cases, that means before the person develops immune suppression. Early detection also allows time for people to learn other things they can do to stay healthy and avoid exposing other people to infection. Ultimately, that means healthier people, fewer people with advancing disease, fewer HIV deaths, and fewer new infections.
And if you test negative, then no worries?? Hang on, don’t start tweeting your newfound healthy status yet. A negative test is your sign that you need to think about your future exposure risks, so you can stay negative.
And, don’t forget, this is but one disease you might pick up during a hook-up. The GYT site can educate you on other risks, and Student Health can do a full sexually transmitted disease screening, to assess your status for Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, and other infections to be named later. No time for a full screening? You can also access STD tests through our OIY program.
Stay safe. Get Tested.
Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University