In observance of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, 2019 the Santa Barbara County Public Health is reaching out to providers and community members to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and early diagnosis of HIV. This year’s theme “Doing It My Way” encourages people to get tested for HIV in a way that is comfortable for them. You can test at your health care provider’s office, at another testing site, or even at home. However you choose to do it, get tested and know your current HIV status.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in seven people in the United States who have HIV don’t know that they are HIV positive. Some people who test positive for HIV were not aware of their risk or need for testing. CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. People with the following risk factors should get tested more often:
- Men who have sex with other men
- Sex with an HIV-positive partner
- More than one sex partner
- Injection drug use
- Exchanged sex for drugs or money
- Diagnosed with or sought treatment for another sexually transmitted disease such as Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and Chlamydia
For those at high risk for HIV, Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily medicine that can reduce your chance of getting HIV. PrEP use can lower the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90% and from injection drug use by more than 70%. Your risk of getting HIV from sex can be even lower if you combine PrEP with condoms and other prevention methods. Financial assistance may be available to individuals seeking PrEP, whether they have insurance or not. Visit www.pleaseprepme.org for more information.