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In observance of World AIDS Day on December 1, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is joining local partners in recognizing the achievements made in HIV Prevention. World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illness. This year’s theme is “Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV.” Ending the HIV epidemic requires us to recognize and address the social challenges and health disparities that block marginalized groups from equal access to services.
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.
“The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested,” shared Paige Batson, Deputy Director for Community Health. “Some people who test positive for HIV were not aware of their risk or need for testing.”
The 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
HIV is a preventable disease. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an HIV prevention strategy in which antiretroviral drugs are used to protect HIV-negative people from HIV infection. PrEP has the potential to prevent HIV among individuals at very high risk for becoming infected with HIV, and provides individuals, clinicians, and HIV prevention workers with another option for HIV prevention. According to the CDC, when taken consistently, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed.