11/11/2020 Of the 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV/AIDS, one in seven individuals does not know he/she is infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As World AIDS Day is observed on Dec. 1, it serves as a reminder for individuals to undergo HIV testing.

The increasing prevalence of drug use significantly spreads the risk for HIV/AIDS. The CDC reports that HIV can live in a used needle for up to 42 days. With various risk factors for disease, the CDC advises that all people from ages 13-64 should be tested for HIV/AIDS once in their lifetime. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends that people diagnosed with HIV begin treatment as soon as possible, so finding out an HIV diagnosis is important. There are specific benefits to starting treatment early, as indicated in the HIV treatment guidelines DHHS released in December 2019. Significant benefits include the following:

  • To treat HIV before the virus has a chance to cause serious damage to the immune system.
  • To reduce the risk of non-AIDS-related diseases, such as those typically associated with aging that are becoming increasingly common among people living with HIV.
  • To reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others.

“A lot of people don’t want to get tested because they think it will change their lives,” explains Jerry Rice, manager of Home Nursing Agency’s AIDS Intervention Project (AIP). “I remember a client who came to AIP with an AIDS diagnosis. While he was in the army, he had done a lot of bar fighting and didn’t realize that was a risk factor for contracting HIV. By the time he found out he had HIV, it had already progressed to AIDS, and he had already infected his wife. If he had been tested earlier and started treatment right away, he could have avoided the transmission of the virus to his wife.” 

Getting tested is vitally important, it can save your life, it can save the life of someone you love. To find a free testing site, visit gettested.cdc.gov/

Created in 1986, Home Nursing Agency’s AIDS Intervention Project is Pennsylvania’s oldest AIDS service provider. AIP promotes prevention of the spread of HIV and provides case management services for those affected with HIV/AIDS. Services include financial assistance, support groups, transportation, check-in visits and supportive phone calls for individuals throughout Bedford, Blair, Fulton and Huntingdon counties. All services are community-based and confidential. For more information about AIP, call 814-944-2982.