Have you or your loved ones been tested for HIV? Now may be the perfect time to do it. Monday marked National HIV Testing Day and as our Solomon Syed explains, it could mean the difference between life and death.
NEW YORK STATE -- "Well even though we're 30 years into this pandemic, we have a large population that hasn't been tested and doesn't know their status."
That's the harsh reality Dorothy Nangle deals with every day. As program manager at the Albany Damien Center, too many people who come to the center for help don't even realize they're already HIV positive.
"What happens is that when people do not know their status, they cannot get the healthcare that they need," said Nangle.
The facts bear that out. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 40 percent of those infected with HIV don't even know they carry the disease until it's already turned into AIDS.
"The CDC recommends that everyone ages 13 to 64 get tested for HIV at least once in their life, and those who are at higher risk get tested routinely," said Michele McClave, the Executive Director for the Aids Council of Northeastern New York.
To help in that effort, the Aids Council of Northeastern New York is just one of hundreds of outreach groups participating in National HIV Testing Day.
The process is simple: check in at your clinic and enter the private testing area, then swab your mouth. After just 20 short minutes, you get the results that could save your life.
"We try to put people at ease, about both the test and the results," said McClave. "There's always something you can do if you have a positive test. We want to get you into early care. And if you're negative, we want to work with you to make sure you have a plan for staying negative."
But don't think you can only get tested on National Testing Day. The folks at the AIDS council offer exams every day, and the center for disease control recommends private healthcare professionals do too.
More options, leads to greater awareness and hopefully, detaches some of the stigma from HIV/AIDS.
"This is nothing to be ashamed of," said Nangle. "If you know, then you can take the precautions to keep yourself safe and the people around you save."
For a list of testing events in your area, visit HIVTEST.ORG.