Add Event My Events Log In

Upcoming Events

    News

    Print this page

    Let's all get tested for HIV. Does that sound like a crazy statement? Maybe it does to some, but all people - homosexual and heterosexual people - need testing to stop the spread of the disease. Getting tested for HIV seems very nerve-wracking for many people, but knowing your status is beyond crucial. I am not a doctor, but I am a sexually active adult who tests myself on a regular three-month basis because I take care of my body and want to live my life the healthiest way possible.

    Currently, our community is struggling to contain the horrific outbreak of HIV cases in Southern Indiana. With new cases popping up, aggressive testing has never been more important. According to the Center for Disease Control, "As of April 21, ISDH (Indiana State Department of Health)  had diagnosed HIV infection in 135 persons (129 with confirmed HIV infection and six with preliminarily positive results from rapid HIV testing that were pending confirmatory testing) in a community of 4,200 persons." Many of the infections spring from intravenous drug use as well as sexually transmitted, the CDC added.

    Earlier in the week, I spoke with Christopher Barton, who has his Ph.D in Pharmacology and Toxicology that focused on HIV microbicides. Our little Q&A session may answer any lingering questions  about the importance of HIV testing for sexually active people.

     

    Louisville.com: First of all, who are the people that should get tested for HIV?

    Barton: Everyone. HIV affects all races, socioeconomic groups, sexual orientations and religions. Even those who believe they are in monogamous relationships should consider it as their beliefs may turn out to be incorrect if one has an unfaithful spouse.


    Louisville.com: How often should people get tested?

    Barton: It is recommended every three months if they are sexually active.The three months was the most aggressive testing regimen. here is a better breakdown:

    Everyone aged 15 through 64 should get tested one time, regardless of their risk factors.
    People who have occasional exposure to HIV risks should be tested at least once a year.
    People who are at high risk for HIV infection should get tested every three to six months.

    The reason is that the earlier an infection is caught, the better the treatment outcomes. early treatment also reduces the chances the person will spread the virus to others.

    Louisville.com: Why should people get tested?

    Barton: Peace of mind and to take charge of their own health. If caught very early, medication will help prevent establishment of viral reservoirs, reduce damage to the immune system, and allow the person to live a normal lifespan. Early treatment also makes them less contagious to others by lowering the person's viral load (the number of copies of virus per milliliter of blood). If caught very early, they can rest assured that they probably didn't pass it on to anyone else. Ignorance of one's status does not change that status, it just allows the virus to spread and do harm to that person.

    Louisville.com: Blood tests vs. mouth swab? Thoughts on this?

    Barton: Either are very viable methods for testing. It all depends on preference. There are even home oral tests available for those who want to test in the privacy of their own home. I don't believe one is better than the other. Both are FDA approved.

    Louisville.com: What should one do if tested positive?

    Barton: First, try not to panic. It isn't the end of the world. However, it is imperative that the person reach out to a care provider - their primary care doctor or an infectious diseases doctor. There will need to be confirmatory tests. But one should also start seeking out service organizations in the community. They provide a wealth of services, including counseling and support for newly diagnosed persons. It can take some time to get used to a positive status, so making sure you have a network to lean upon can be crucial.

    Louisville.com: Should you go get tested alone or bring support?

    Barton: That would be wholly up to the person tested. Some people want to be very private, while some suspecting a positive result may want someone there to lean upon. It is wholly up to the person tested. Whichever way works best is acceptable. The big thing is to get regularly tested in the way that makes you the most comfortable.

    Louisville.com: Thoughts on if you're dating someone with HIV and you are negative?

    Barton: Look into PrEP and support the HIV+ partner's adherence to medication. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a once daily dose of medication taken by an HIV negative person and is extremely effective at reducing chance of transmission. Additionally, studies have shown that HIV+ persons with an undetectable viral load (less than 20 copies per ml) are extremely unlikely to spread the virus as well. With an undetectable viral load being associated with medication adherence, it is important that the HIV+ person not miss doses. Together, an undetectable viral load in an HIV+ partner with the HIV- partner on PrEP should render it extremely unlikely that the HIV- partner would contract the virus. Otherwise, they shouldn't be afraid to love, laugh, and grow old together. PrEP costs will vary based on insurer and whether the person has a copay or co insurance. However, Gilead has Copay assistance available for everyone, and a patient access program for those who have lower incomes.

    Barton also added, "An HIV diagnosis isn't the end of the world - and many persons are living long lives and thriving despite an HIV diagnosis. However, health outcomes can greatly be impacted by how early the infection is caught and treated, with the earlier being the better. Thus, don't be afraid to be tested. The only thing it changes about you is your level of knowledge, and knowledge is power: the power to take control of your own health and reduce further transmissions of HIV."

    So this is MY call to action: Get smart, get tested and protect yourself.

    LOCAL TESTING CENTERS

    Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness Specialty Clinic
    7201 Outer Loop Suite 232
    Louisville, KY 40228
    Phone: 502-574-6699

    Family Health Centers Incorporated East Broadway Health Center
    914 E Broadway Suite 100
    Louisville, KY 40204
    Phone: 502-583-1981

    Planned Parenthood of Kentucky Incorporated Louisville Health Center
    1025 S Second St
    Louisville, KY 40203
    Phone: 502-584-2473

    Center For Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention
    332 W Broadway Suite 404
    Louisville, KY 40202
    Phone: 502-587-5001

    Fairdale Family Health Centers Incorporated
    1000 Neighborhood Place
    Louisville, KY 40118
    Phone: 502-361-2381

    Park DuValle Community Health Center Incorporated Louisville Office
    3015 Wilson Ave
    Louisville, KY 40211
    Phone: 502-774-4401

    Clark County Health Department Sexually Transmitted Diseases/AIDS Clinical Services AIDS Counseling and Testing Site
    1301 Akers Ave
    Jeffersonville, IN 47130
    Phone: 812-288-2706

    Redeemer Lutheran Church Project Compassion
    3640 River Park Dr
    Louisville, KY 40211
    Phone: 502-776-5945

    Planned Parenthood of Indiana Incorporated New Albany Health Center
    2708 Paoli Pike Plaza Suite J
    New Albany, IN 47150
    Phone: 812-945-4844

    Bullitt County Health Department
    181 Lees Valley Rd
    Shepherdsville, KY 40165
    Phone: 502-543-2415

    Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services North Central District Health Department Spencer County Office
    88 Spears Dr
    Taylorsville, KY 40071
    Phone: 502-477-8146

    Oldham County Health Department
    1786 Commerce Pkwy
    La Grange, KY 40031
    Phone: 502-222-3516

    Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services North Central District Health Department Shelby County Health Department
    615 Eleventh St
    Shelbyville, KY 40065
    Phone: 502-633-1231

    Spencer Jenkins's picture

    About Spencer Jenkins

    Spillin' all the Louisville LGBT tea.

    More from author:      

    Share On:

    Upcoming Events

      Event Finder

      Subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or RSS