National HIV Testing Day is observed every year on June 27th. National HIV Testing Day was designed to remind people to get tested at least once per year, depending on your sexual activity. The purpose of the day is to catch HIV early on because early detection leads to the best possible outcomes. People who are diagnosed and treated early can prevent serious complications, and often the disease does not progress into AIDS.
Diseases are kind of like a snowball rolling downhill. At first, when they start out, they are small and slow, but the farther they get down the hill, the bigger and faster they get. We want to help our readers be able to catch things in early stages, either with their own health or the health of a loved one.
The Basics about HIV
Now, let’s start with the basics. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. The virus can lead to AIDS if it is not prevented with treatment early on. HIV isn’t like other viruses. With most viruses, such as the flu, the body goes through the stages of the illness. Eventually the body fights off the virus and you return to your normal health.
Unlike most viruses, the body cannot ever fight off the HIV virus. This means that once you have HIV, you will have it forever. HIV attacks the body’s T cells, which are responsible for helping the immune system fight off infection. Over time, HIV depletes the number of T cells in the body. This makes it much harder for the body to fight off infection and disease. The immune system becomes so weak that it may be overcome by opportunistic infections or cancers. This occurs in the final stages of HIV, which is AIDS.
HIV and Early Detection – HIV Testing Day Awareness
There is no cure for HIV, but early detection and treatment makes it much easier to control. HIV is controllable when you get to it quickly. Even though there is no cure, there are medicines to treat and control the virus. The biggest treatment for HIV is a combination of medications called ART. ART stands for antiretroviral therapy.
ART uses several different antiretroviral medicines to slow down how quickly the virus multiplies. The different antiretrovirals are much more effective when used in combination. If ART is started quickly after becoming HIV positive, the therapy can significantly prolong the person’s life. It can also keep HIV positive people healthy. In addition, ART reduces the chances of transmitting the virus to others. With the use of ART, people who are HIV positive may live about as long as people who do not have HIV. Before this treatment, HIV was almost certainly a death sentence; it no longer is.
Stages of HIV – State One
There are three stages of HIV. The first stage is called Acute HIV Infection. This typically occurs between two and four weeks after being infected by the virus. Stage one may appear to be flu, with very similar symptoms since this is the body’s designed response to a virus. People in stage one of HIV are extremely contagious because the bloodstream is flooded with the virus. The problem is that people in stage one may not experience symptoms at all. Symptoms can also be very mild, and easy to overlook.
Stages of HIV – Stage Two
The second stage of HIV is called Clinical Latency. Stage two is also called asymptomatic HIV infection or chronic HIV infection. In stage two, the HIV virus is still reproducing, but it does so very slowly. This stage may start off without any symptoms. Stage two can last up to a decade, sometimes even longer. However, it can also last as little as a few years. This is another reason why many people are unaware that they have contracted HIV. It doesn’t necessarily become apparent until it has progressed to late stage two or early stage three.
HIV can still be transmitted during stage two. People who know that they are HIV positive and are taking ART are much less likely to transmit the virus because there are low levels of the virus in the blood. As stage two progresses, the amount of the virus in the blood starts to increase. And, the T cell count begins to decrease. As the virus level increases in the body, people may begin to have symptoms and feel ill. This occurs right before entering stage three.
Stages of HIV – Stage Three
Stage three of HIV is AIDS. AIDS is the most advanced phase of HIV. AIDS damages the immune system so severely that they become prone to opportunistic illnesses, which are often severe. People with AIDS experience symptoms similar to the flu. This may be a persistent fever, chills, sweats, swollen glands, weakness, and weight loss. Stage three is diagnosed when the T cell count drops below 200 cells/mm. It may also be diagnosed due to opportunistic illnesses. People who are in stage three have a very high level of the virus in their blood and are extremely contagious.
Get Tested on HIV Testing Day
Getting test is the only way to be sure that you have or do not have HIV. Knowing your HIV status is imperative to your health, and the health of your partners. The virus can also be transmitted if you share needles, or from mother to child. Knowing your risk factors is also key in prevention.
HIV testing is easy to attain. Remember that all medical tests are confidential so don’t be afraid that your status may get out. First off, Planned Parenthood provides testing, for free if you are unable to pay. You can also text your zip code to 566948 (KNOW IT). There are even at home testing kits now. There are a lot of places that have free testing days, too, especially on HIV Testing Day. You can also get tested through your general practitioner.
So, if you’re in the mood for a little Netflix and Chill, make sure that you and your partner get tested and know your status first!
Personalized Cause and HIV Testing Day
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The Personalized Cause® awareness blog is dedicated to educating our readers about as many causes as possible. We strive to create a more informed and compassionate community through our awareness pins as well as our awareness blog. I hope you’ll join us for our next post!
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