LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Division of HIV and STD Programs is urging Michiganders to make HIV testing a part of their life in support of National HIV Testing Day on June 27.
MDHHS is recognizing National HIV Testing Day through a series of events and observations conducted by community partners throughout the state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and that number grows by nearly 40,000 people each year. In Michigan, approximately 18,950 people are living with HIV, and 14 percent are not aware of their positive status.
It is estimated 30 percent of new infections come from individuals who do not know they have HIV.CDC has found that more than 90 percent of new HIV infections in the United States could be prevented by testing and diagnosing people who have HIV and ensuring they receive prompt, ongoing care and treatment.
“HIV testing is the essential entry point to a continuum of prevention, health care and social services that are central to managing HIV and promoting health among all people living with HIV,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “It is important for people to be aware of their status as it provides important information that can help keep them healthy.”
Recent findings show significantly greater health benefits for persons who start antiretroviral therapy (ART) earlier. Medicines to treat HIV can help keep people with HIV healthy for many years, and greatly reduce the chance of transmitting HIV. Groundbreaking concepts like Undetectable Equals Untransmittable demonstrate that a person living with HIV who is taking ART as prescribed, and who has an undetectable viral load in their blood sample for at least six months, has a negligible risk of transmitting HIV sexually.
Key HIV prevention methods include condoms and/or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is a once-a-day pill for HIV-negative individuals that when taken daily helps reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Using condoms correctly and consistently also helps to protect against pregnancy and other sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis, gonorrhea or chlamydia.