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Help Your Patients Understand Their Status This HIV Testing Day

HIV Testing Day

Help observe this important date by empowering your patients to test themselves for HIV.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 38,000 people received a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) diagnosis in 2022. Despite these numbers experiencing a slight bump over previous years, the CDC estimates that for every 100 people with HIV, only 87 knew about their HIV status. Left unknown and untreated, HIV can cause serious harm to these individuals — and allow the virus to further spread. Observed each year on June 27, National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) encourages HIV testing as a critical tool to help end the HIV epidemic in the U.S.

The theme for this year’s NHTD is “Level up your self-love: check your status.” According to the webpage on the observance, this theme “emphasizes valuing yourself, showing yourself compassion and respect and honoring your health needs with self-love. Knowing your HIV status helps you choose options to stay healthy.” Nurse practitioners (NPs) play a pivotal role in helping to improve HIV screening rates — ensuring that those at greater risk of HIV stay safe and those who test positive for the virus receive the treatment they need to live long and healthy lives. Read on to review the latest screening recommendations and access resources from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) for preventing, diagnosing and treating HIV.

Time to Get Tested

In an article by NPs Karen S. Moore, DNP, ANP-BC, FNP-C, FAANP, FAAN, and Courtney J. Pitts, DNP, MPH, FNP-BC, FAANP, for the Journal for Nurse Practitioners (JNP), they state that, “During these past four decades, HIV has gone from a quickly debilitating and lethal disease to a chronic manageable condition.” Scientists across the globe have made great strides in research, developing new prevention modalities and effective treatments while continuing work towards a safe and effective HIV vaccine.

It is with these advances in treatment and prevention in mind that the U.S Department of Health and Human Services launched the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative. Announced in 2019, the EHE initiative aims to utilize the advances in HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the U.S by 75% in 2025, and by at least 90% by 2030. With this call to end the epidemic in action and treatment widely available, it is imperative that patients get tested for HIV to reduce the burden of this virus.

Sharing Screening Recommendations

So, who is eligible for HIV testing? As stated in “HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections: Screening Recommendations” in JNP, “Adolescents and adults from 15 to 65 years old should be screened for HIV. Persons younger than 15 or older than 65 years should also be screened if they are at increased risk. In addition, women who are pregnant should be screened for HIV during their first and any subsequent pregnancies.” Patients with certain risk factors — such as men who have sex with other men; individuals who have shared needles or other drug equipment; and individuals who have had anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV, had more than one sex partner since their last HIV test or been diagnosed with/treated for another sexually transmitted infection, hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB) — should get tested at least once a year.

Thankfully, the CDC has shared various resources for the screening and prevention of HIV. In their press release for NHTD, the CDC states, “HIV testing, including self-testing, is the pathway to engaging people in care to keep them healthy, regardless of their test result.” Beyond testing, the CDC goes on to add, “People who receive a negative test result can take advantage of HIV prevention tools such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and condoms. People who receive a positive test result can rapidly start HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy, or ART) to stay healthy. Knowing your test result is an opportunity to obtain other sexual health services such as vaccines and testing for sexually transmitted infections.”

AANP is here to support you in your efforts to test for HIV and keep your community safe from this epidemic. Read through Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic to find out how increased screenings for sexually transmitted infections can help stop the spread and reduce the health burden of HIV in your community, then review practice briefs on the implementation of oral and injectable PrEP to prevent HIV infection in high-risk populations.

Learn, Network and Advance Practice in Infectious Disease and HIV Care

Prevention and treatment methods for HIV and other infectious diseases are continually evolving as new diseases emerge and innovations are made to reduce disease transmission. If you’re interested in effective strategies for disease containment; pandemic risk, impact and mitigation; or innovations in treatment-resistant coinfections, the Infectious Disease and HIV AANP Community is a great fit for you!

Designed to support discussion, document sharing, collaboration and networking, each of the AANP Communities maintains a dedicated online forum where you can instantly connect with like-minded NP colleagues and share information.

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