This year’s HIV testing day is all about prevention.
Testing for HIV is a key piece of prevention. It helps people know their status so they don’t pass the virus on to others. If you’ve never had one before, make a note to ask your provider for a test at your next appointment.
VA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend everyone be tested at least once in their lifetime. In addition to HIV testing, you can ask about testing for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Important prevention methods
If you think you might be at risk, talk to your provider about how often you should be tested and about prevention methods, like:
- Using PrEP. Pre-Exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily medication (Truvada or Descovy) that is highly effective at preventing HIV. PrEP is available at VA. Make sure you get a test before you start and stay up to date on STI testing while on PrEP. Learn more about PrEP.
- Practicing safer sex. Condoms are available via prescription at VA. Ask your provider for a condom prescription at your next appointment. Tips for using condoms.
- Practicing safe injection drug use. If you need help to stop using drugs, please talk to your VA provider. If you inject drugs, make sure you use clean equipment every time. Find more information about Syringe Services.
Caring for 31,000 Veterans with HIV
VA is part of a federal initiative called “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America.” The program aims to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. This initiative leverages critical scientific advances in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care by coordinating the highly successful programs and infrastructure. VA provides care to nearly 31,000 Veterans with HIV across its health care system, so we have a critical role in this effort. Testing and prevention are critical components of our efforts to end HIV in the U.S., and we need your help to make it happen.
This HIV testing day, take the time to learn about prevention and think about whether you need a test. Getting a test is simple. Just talk to your provider at your next telehealth appointment or in-person visit and they can put in testing orders for you. Then, the next time you are at the lab, you can get the test. With your help, we will end the HIV epidemic in the United States. Learn more at www.HIV.va.gov.
Elizabeth Maguire, MSW, is the communications lead for the HIV, Hepatitis and Related Conditions Program Office.