Learn how self-testing breaks down barriers to HIV testing and what to do when you receive positive or negative test results.
Take the test and take the next step: eight seemingly simple words the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) selected as the theme for 2023 National HIV Testing Day. Eight simple words that are harder to do in real life.
In 2019, the CDC estimated that as many as 158,500 people in the United States were living with HIV and not aware of their diagnosis. That’s only a fraction of the number of people globally who don’t know they live with HIV: In 2021, it was a whopping 5.9 million. With so many people unaware of being infected, testing remains key to ending the epidemic. The CDC recommends self-testing as a key tool for providing wider access to HIV tests.
Increasing the number of people who test for HIV is only the first step in addressing this issue. People who test positive for HIV must be able to take the next step of finding care – and the most essential is prompt medical treatment.
Breaking down barriers
However, there remain numerous barriers to testing and treatment: financial constraints, lack of healthcare access, and time constraints. Breaking down barriers by bringing testing and treatment to meet people where they live is crucial to plugging this gap.
The advice of ‘taking the next step’ does not just apply to those who test positive for HIV. Most people who take an HIV test will end up testing negative for infection. They, too, can take the next step to ensure they remain HIV negative. For them, the next step would be to talk to a provider to see if they are good candidates for pre-exposure prophylaxis against HIV (PrEP). More PrEP options exist today than ever before, including oral and injectable options. Also, patients can easily obtain baseline labs in the comfort of their home, talk to a provider through telehealth, and get medications mailed to them.
State public health organizations and health plans can provide linkages to care to support both HIV negative and HIV positive people in their communities. Primary.Health can help with this process. We offer easy access to at-home testing and telehealth services. To learn more about offering HIV tests to your community, click here.
Disclaimer: This blog content and linked materials are not intended as individual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered as such. Any readers with medical concerns should contact a licensed healthcare provider. This blog is provided for informational purposes only.