FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2016
Contact: Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391
National HIV Testing Day is June 27
National HIV Testing Day is observed annually on June 27 to encourage people of all ages to get tested. With an estimated 1.2 million living with HIV in the US and 45,000 new infections each year, it’s crucial that Montanans know their HIV status, Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials said today.
Judy Nielsen of the DPHHS STD-HIV Prevention Section, wants Montanans to know the facts about HIV. “There are Montanans living with HIV who may not be aware they have it,” she said. “Getting tested allows anyone with HIV to benefit from life-saving treatment and protect others from infection.”
HIV is present in Montana. As of December 31, 2015, more than 1,300 cases have been reported in the state since 1985. Currently, 595 persons are known to be living with HIV infection in Montana and an average of 20 new Montana cases of HIV infection have been diagnosed each year.
Getting tested is the first step. When a person’s HIV status is known, steps can be taken to obtain medical care and get treatment if positive. Studies show that early treatment leads to a longer, healthier life. HIV medication also protects the health of partners as it greatly reduces the risk of transmitting HIV to others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care and that people with higher risk get tested more often. Gay and bisexual men, people with more than one sex partner, people with sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and persons who inject drugs are at higher risk and should get tested at least once a year. Other reasons to test are unprotected sex, anonymous sex, multiple partners and needle sharing. Persons who have been sexually assaulted or pregnant or planning to become pregnant also should be tested.
Persons testing negative also benefit, as steps can be taken to stay negative, such as reducing the number of partners, using condoms consistently and asking a health care provider about taking preventive medication for those who are at substantial risk.
Testing for HIV is available through your health care provider, HIV testing sites, and many local public health departments. Health insurance usually covers the test, and some sites offer free testing. FDA-approved home testing kits are available for purchase at some pharmacies.
For HIV prevention information and to find a nearby testing site go to the GetCheckedMT.org website, or contact your local health department. Other resources are available at 1-800-CDC-INFO, or text your ZIP code to "KNOW IT" (566948) to find an HIV/STD test site near you.