No longer a death sentence, but still with us

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) — Monday is *National HIV Testing Day*…and public health officials are taking this opportunity to remind us that this is still a significant health concern.

A generation or two ago, it was the nightmare that scared us all. We haven’t thought much about HIV lately as our attention has shifted to other threats to our well-being, but the virus itself is still very much around.

And we might need to hear this news more than most. Nevada ranks fourth in the nation for diagnoses by population.

“Our population is ephemeral,” notes Jen Howell, sexual health program coordinator for Washoe County Health District. We also have a lot of drug addiction. There is a lot of sex without a condom. So all of these things come together.

It is difficult to fight a disease until it is detected and there is little excuse today for leaving it undiagnosed. A simple blood test produces the answer in minutes and Howell says we shouldn’t fear the answer any longer.

“Because it is information for you. If your test is positive, we place you in care and these are resources that surround and support you.

There is still no cure, but there are effective treatments. A positive test is no longer a death sentence.

She thinks everyone should have this test once in their lifetime, except those with the well-known risk factors; men who have sex with men, who use drugs, or those who may have been intimate with others who engage in risky behavior,” and those who are sexually active who may have open relationships or partners multiples or you’re not sure what your partner is doing….they need to get tested too.

Thanks to a law change in the last legislature, the test is available at all primary care facilities as well as the county health department.

Copyright 2022 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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