La Gente Program Coordinator, Servicios de La Raza
June 26, 2017 marks the 22nd year we observe National HIV Testing Day (NHTD). It’s a day the HIV community—those living with HIV and the countless advocates who dedicate themselves to the prevention and care of HIV—make a consorted effort to encourage all to get tested for HIV. This year’s theme, Test Your Way. Do It Today, is not only a plea for everyone to get tested on June 27th, but also serves as a reminder that there’s many different ways to do so. Whether it’s in a clinic, with your health care provider, a testing event, at home, or from a local organization like Servicios de La Raza, it doesn’t matter where, it’s just important to get tested.
Approximately 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV, and 1 in 7 of them don’t know it. Each year, 30 percent of new HIV cases result from transmission by people who are living with undiagnosed HIV. Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. Sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men should get tested every 3 to 6 months.
Getting tested and knowing your HIV status is one of the most important things you can do for your health. If you’re living with HIV, start treatment as soon as possible. It will not only help keep you healthy, but also greatly reduces your chance of transmitting the virus to others (96 percent). Those who are HIV-negative but at high risk for contracting the virus, consider taking pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP to lower the chances of acquiring HIV.
The CDC and Colorado are concentrating on increased and improved testing efforts among communities with the highest risk and those most affected by HIV, such as Latinos, young Latino men who have sex with men, and transgender women of color. Local organizations throughout the public and private sector are also making strides to positively impact communities highly affected by HIV.
The first case of AIDS in Colorado was diagnosed in 1982. Since then, more than 19,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV and over 6,000 people have died. By the end of 2015, more than 13,000 people were reported to be living with HIV in Colorado. Although the majority of new HIV diagnoses in Colorado are among Non-Hispanic Whites, males, and 20-39 years old, Latinos are tremendously affected by HIV. Latinos make up 21 percent of Colorado’s population and account for 20 percent of people living with HIV. Alarming still, Latinos account for 39 percent of new HIV diagnoses and 34 percent of AIDS diagnoses. While the burden is heaviest in the Denver metro area, 24 percent of people living with HIV reside outside Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties.
If you’re asking yourself what you can do to lessen the impact of HIV, the answer’s easy. Get tested! Learn about HIV and share this information with your family, friends and community. Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to help keep you and others healthy. Saber es poder, knowledge is power. Test your way, and do it today!