Today, December 1, 2012, is World AIDS Day. Hopefully you will see some red ribbons around that reflect more than Christmas cheer- they are symbols of AIDS awareness. Many Americans are unaware that HIV disease is still a concern, since it is no longer a common lead story on the nightly news. Ironically, our capitol, Washington D.C., has the highest prevalence of HIV disease within our country. There are now over 1.1 million Americans living with HIV disease. The good news is that with the tremendous advances with antiviral therapy in the last decade, most people with HIV infection are able to continue to lead productive lives, although they must be extremely vigilant about their health maintenance. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one in four new HIV infections occur in young people ages 13-24, with over 12,000 new infections in this age group each year.
Perhaps the most frightening issue with HIV disease today is that a significant portion of these infected individuals- up to an estimated 60% of infected youth- have no idea they are infected, and therefore can be unknowingly spreading this disease. The current recommendations are for EVERYONE aged 13-65 and living in the United States to be tested, regardless of perceived risk. With this universal directive, we will be able to identify all those with silent disease, and initiate early treatment that will improve and prolong their health.
BOTTOM LINE: Current guidelines encourage all Americans aged 13-65 to have at least one HIV test. Talk with your doctor today and GET TESTED.