This year marks the 19th annual National HIV Testing Day, a time to promote one of our best tools for HIV prevention. Too many people don’t know they have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). More than 1 million people are living with HIV in the United States, but 1 in 5 do not know they are infected.
According to data compiled by the Montana Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 31 percent of Montanans aged 18 – 64 have never been tested for HIV. An estimated 31% of Montana adults report an HIV-related risk (intravenous drug use, diagnosis with an STI, exchanging money or drugs for sex, or having sex without a condom) in the past year. And, while Montana is considered a low prevalence state, an estimated 600 people are living with HIV or AIDS, and approximately 20 new HIV infections are reported annually.
In April 2013, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released HIV testing recommendations stating:
- Everyone aged 15 to 65 should be screened for HIV infection
- Teens younger than age 15 and adults older than 65 also should be screened if at increased risk
- All pregnant women, including women in labor should be screened
CDC also recommends an HIV test once a year for people at increased risk, including:
- Gay and bisexual men
- People who inject drugs
- People with multiple sex partners
CDC data suggests that sexually active gay and bisexual men might benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
Health care providers can:
- Offer patients HIV tests as a routine part of their health care.
- Test women for HIV each time they are pregnant.
- Connect people at high risk for HIV to services that help them lower their risk and prevent them from getting infected.
- Make sure people who have HIV receive treatment and the services they need to stay healthy and lower their risk of passing the virus to others.
- See our website at www.dphhs.mt.gov for links to download materials for health care providers from CDC’s Act Against AIDS website.
To obtain further information regarding HIV/AIDS and the transmission of HIV, please click here.
For more information about HIV testing and support in Gallatin County, check out our HIV Case Management pages.