June 27 is National HIV Testing Day and although HIV does not get as much publicity as it did in the 1980s and early 1990s; there are still approximately 56,000 Americans per year who become infected with HIV.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.1 million people are currently living with HIV in the United States; including 207,600 (18.1%) who are unaware of their infection. The North Dakota Department of Health reports that as of December 2012, there are approximately 135 North Dakota residents living with HIV. Thanks to better treatments, people with HIV are now living longer—and with a better quality of life—than ever before.
In the United States, HIV is most commonly spread through body fluids during unprotected sex, sharing needles, or other drug equipment. In addition, a mother can pass HIV to her baby during pregnancy, during labor, through breastfeeding, or by pre-chewing her baby’s food.
“People can get HIV in North Dakota, and that is why it is important to know your status. Getting tested for HIV is easy and usually takes less than 20 minutes and is completely confidential.” states Larry Anenson, Fargo Cass Public Health’s protection and promotion director.
HIV antibody testing is available free of charge at Fargo Cass Public Health Clinic. The HIV antibody test detects the presence of antibodies to the HIV virus by using a simple blood test. This is not a test for AIDS. The test does not tell you if you have AIDS; it does show if you have been infected with the virus which can cause AIDS.
For more information on HIV, as well as finding HIV testing sites, call 701.241.1383, or go to FargoCassPublicHealth.com.