Health officials are urging people to get tested for HIV because knowing your status and getting proper treatment are just as important to the fight against HIV as prevention methods. With proper treatment and care, HIV-positive individuals can achieve viral suppression, meaning the amount of virus in the blood is very low. This reduces the risk of spreading the virus to others.
“Getting tested is the first step,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. HIV testing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that health providers screen all people 13 to 64 years of age. Annual HIV screening is recommended for those at risk who have had unprotected sex, a new sexual partner, or shared needles or equipment to inject drugs.
“HIV testing should be part of everyone’s regular health routine to keep ourselves and our community healthy,” said Dr. Ehlinger. “There are options for people diagnosed with HIV to get proper care.”
Staff in the STD, HIV, TB section at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) work with individuals who are HIV-positive to link them to care. In 2013, 87 percent of people diagnosed with HIV were linked to care within 90 days of diagnosis.
“We are committed to helping people overcome barriers to getting tested and receiving the right care,” said Krissie Guerard, section manager for the STD, HIV, TB section.
Along with regular HIV testing for everyone, health officials also stressed the importance of continued prevention methods to stop the spread of HIV. These include:
- Consistently practicing safer sex, including using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners.
- Avoiding the sharing of needles or equipment to tattoo, body pierce, or inject drugs.
- Getting into and staying in care if infected.
June 5, 2016, marked 35 years since the CDC released a report detailing the first cases of what would later become known as AIDS. A total of 11,009 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported in Minnesota since MDH began tracking AIDS in 1982 and HIV in 1985.
On average, 300 new HIV cases are reported to the department each year. An estimated 8,215 persons are living with HIV/AIDS in the state.
Information provided by the Minnesota Department of Health. Additional information about HIV and where to get tested is available from the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) AIDSLine, 612-373-2437 (Twin Cities Metro), 1-800-248-2437 (Statewide), 1-888-820-2437 (Statewide TTY), Text “AIDSLINE” to 839863, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. MAP AIDSLine offers statewide information and referral services, including prevention education, HIV risk assessments, HIV testing and referrals to HIV testing sites.