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Five reasons to get HIV test
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HIV Testing Day is June 27. It’s the perfect opportunity for everyone who has ever wondered if they could have come in contact with HIV infected fluids to get tested. Obviously there are some occupations that put us more at risk than others, just as there are some sexual behaviors that greatly increase these risks.
It’s the smart thing for people (young and older) who have had multiple sexual partners to lift the burden of not knowing where they stand with this virus. If you have doubts, now is the time to find out and put these doubts to rest.
I have particularly been impressed with young men who come in for testing before jeopardizing the health of women they care about. It’s rare that testing is positive but the only way to be sure is to be tested.
Many people don’t necessary find out they have HIV until years later. In these cases, ignorance was not bliss. Treated, most people with HIV today can live normal lives and prevent the deadly toll of full blown AIDS. And unnecessary exposure to HIV of those we love doesn’t exactly endear them to us so please make sure you’re not doing this.

Five reasons to get tested:
1. Early intervention means a healthier life the key to living a healthier life with HIV is to get tested, diagnosed and begin treatment early.
2. Knowing your status protects you and your partner. HIV testing enables people with HIV to take steps to protect their own health and that of their partners, and it helps people who test negative get the information they need to stay negative.
3. Knowing your status allows you to make informed decisions about your life such as starting a family and making sure your children are protected from getting HIV.
4. Now you can ask the right questions of your physician and receive the best treatment for any problems you might have. Having HIV puts you at risk for health disorders that you might not have otherwise and that require different treatments than if you did not have HIV. You need to understand these differences and know when to seek medical care.
5. Know your status, get the most of your doctor visits. It is very important to find a physician who understands the uniqueness and complexities of HIV and AIDS and who you feel comfortable with, whose competence you trust and who is willing to work with you in planning your medical care.

HIV can be contracting by:
Sex — Whatever your sexuality (it doesn’t matter) if you have sex with someone who has HIV, and you don’t use a condom, you can become infected with HIV. Oral sex without a condom also carries a risk of HIV and other infections.
Sharing needles — If you share needles or other drug injecting equipment that contains traces of HIV infected blood, you can become infected with HIV.
Mother to baby —  If a pregnant woman has HIV, she can pass it on to her child in three ways: during pregnancy, during birth, or through breastfeeding. But there are proven steps mothers can take to reduce the possibility of their unborn child contracting HIV.
Infected blood — You can become infected with HIV by receiving infected blood, blood products or donated organs as part of medical treatment. In the U.S., the chance of this happening is remote as all blood, blood products and donated organs are screened for HIV and infected materials destroyed.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that more than 1 million Americans are living with HIV today and one quarter of these are unaware of their infection.
Don’t jeopardize your chance at life; make sure you know your body and any available options that will help you make the most of it. There are several different tests available to check for the presence HIV. These tests are free and confidential at all health departments.

Ratcliffe works with the Coastal Health District. Her office is in Hinesville. You can call her at 876-2173.
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