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June 23, 2022

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HIV Testing | HIV/AIDS | CDC, 2020):

  • Approximately 1.2 million Americans have HIV.
  • Roughly 161,800 Americans have HIV but do not know it.
  • Around 40% of all new HIV infections are transmitted by individuals who have HIV but are unaware of their status.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is transmitted through direct contact with certain bodily fluids from a person who has a detectable HIV viral load.

  • Once infected, the immune system becomes  weakened. HIV attacks the body’s immune system and  prevents it from fighting off foreign invaders.
  • As a result, the affected person will become more susceptible to infections and other diseases.
  • If HIV is left untreated, it may eventually progress to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
  • With treatment, the HIV viral load may become undetectable. An individual with an undetectable viral load has no risk of transmitting HIV through sexual contact (Protecting Others | Living With HIV | HIV Basics | HIV/AIDS | CDC, 2021).

Testing can be performed using the rapid test or the laboratory test.

  • Both require a sample of blood.
    • The results for the rapid test can be obtained on the same day of testing.
    • It can take a few days before the results of the laboratory test can be obtained.
  • Testing can take place in several different locations (healthcare provider’s office, laboratory, mobile testing van, health fairs, clinics, community health centers, health department, at home/self-testing, etc.).

June 27th has been designated as National HIV Testing Day. The only way to be certain of a patient’s HIV status is through testing.

  • The CDC recommends all patients between the ages 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once and higher risk populations get tested at least annually.
  • Medicare covers HIV screening for all patients ages 15-65 annually, regardless of perceived risk as well as covers annual screening for high-risk patients younger than age 15 and older than age 65.
  • Medicare also cover HIV screening three times during pregnancy.

Early detection and diagnosis are essential for the treatment of HIV and the prevention of HIV transmission.

  • Encourage your patients to know their status by getting screened for HIV. Medicare provides HIV screenings for beneficiaries that meet certain criteria. Discuss this Medicare preventive benefit with your patients and  encourage them to schedule these screenings if they qualify.
  • Talk to your patients about HIV prevention.
  • Discuss treatment options with your patients, if applicable.

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