I just went in for my annual physical with my primary care doctor a couple months ago. I’m learning that, with a large number of patients to see, I have to take charge of my own health. My doctor is not usually going to take the initiative in asking all the right questions, even throughout a normal physical. As I do every year, I ask for an HIV test. This time, my doctor stopped short, “You just had one last year…you don’t need it again.”
“Really?” I responded, “And why is that?” Awkward pause. Some fumbling. “Ok, yeah sure. I’ll order that for you.”
“Thanks,” I said. “You know, with all the questions you’ve asked me, you’ve not once asked me questions about my sexual behavior, drug use, or anything like that. Why is that?” (He did ask me how often I smoke tobacco and drink, though).
What followed was an honest conversation (albeit brief!) about the assumptions we make as humans about others, even in environments like this one and the standard questions that must be asked. He had made some assumptions about me (as I had him). I encouraged him to ask those questions in the future, so that everyone can know their status.
In the days following the State of the Union address, the Health and Human Services leadership, in conjunction with the CDC, released a plan, entitled “Ending the HIV Epidemic,” wherein they lay-out a strategy for “reducing numbers of incident infections in the United States by 75% within 5 years, and then by 90% within 10 years.” Included in this strategy is a focus on so-called “hot-spots” which include increased funding and strategic work within areas having greater incidence of HIV, including Baltimore City, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Washington D.C. amongst others.
The plan includes a four-pronged approach to ending the epidemic in the United States. There is nothing particularly new or novel to this approach, as many who have been engaged in this work note. However, it is a helpful way to re-emphasize the important, multi-faceted approach needed to address HIV. We will be taking some time to examine each one of these areas of the strategy and how it intersects with the work of HopeSprings.
Know Your Status
Approximately 165,000 Americans are living with HIV but don’t know they have it (1 in 7 who are living with HIV don’t know their status). The longer people live with HIV, the more difficult and complicated treatment can become. It also can aid in reducing transmission to others. Unfortunately, those who were unaware of their status contributed to nearly 40% of new cases of HIV in 2016. With many not connected to routine healthcare providers, the challenge is even greater.
Everyone should know their status and the CDC recommends that everyone be tested at least once in their lives. I recommend adding it to your routine healthcare regimen, and make it a point to discuss it with your healthcare provider. If you fear you may have been exposed to HIV recently, or if you might be at risk, don’t wait to find out! You can find a testing site here , call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636, or text your ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948).
We would also be glad to directly connect you with our clinical partners who conduct regular HIV testing as well.
We are in the together, to end the epidemic and BE the Cure to one another.