The World AIDS Day. Tips: Where to Get Tested for Free

December 1 is World AIDS Day. It's a special day set aside to encourage discussion about treatment and prevention of AIDS. For some, it's also a day to remember those who have lost a fight with AIDS. Many people believe that there's no way they could have AIDS, and thus they avoid getting tested. But there are over 36 million people living with AIDS worldwide. 2.1 million of those people are children. And these are just the people who have been diagnosed. AIDS can be a deadly disease, but to receive lifesaving treatment you need to know your AIDS status. In honor of World AIDS Day, get yourself tested. Here are a few options of where you can get tested for free:

Find a testing center

There are many healthcare clinics that provide free testing for AIDS, HIV, and other infections and STDS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a free tool to find the closest testing center to you. Simply enter your zip code to get results. You can filter the results by "HIV Tests" to make sure you find a center that provides AIDS and HIV screening.

What's the difference between AIDS and HIV?

HIV is a virus that untreated can lead to AIDS. HIV damages the immune system to the point where those infected develop AIDS. AIDS stands for "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome," which accurately describes the AIDS syndrome. People with AIDS suffer from a very weak immune system that has difficulty fighting off infections and viruses. While there is no cure for HIV or AIDS, but treatment can help those living with HIV or AIDS live a long and active life.

HIV can be transmitted without sex

It's important to know that HIV can be contracted through blood, sharing needles with someone who's infected, and through other bodily fluids like breast milk.

Ask your doctor for a test

Many health insurance providers cover the cost of HIV tests. During your regular check-up, ask your doctor if you can get tested. Your test can include HIV and other disease screenings. It's important to get tested at least once a year. You should also get tested if you believe you've been exposed to someone with HIV or AIDS, or if you've been with someone whose history you're unfamiliar with. It's generally good practice to be tested before and after each new partner.

What happens if I'm diagnosed with HIV or AIDS?

Don't panic. There are millions of people living with HIV and AIDS. Scientists are searching for a cure, but in the mean time there are plenty of treatment options to help you manage HIV and AIDS. If you're diagnosed, there are a few things you'll need to address with any sexual partners:

• Notify any partner you've had about your status
• Notify potential partners about your status
• Always use a condom, dental dam, or other barrier method to prevent the spread of disease
• Learn about treatment and keep up on your care

It's important to note that disclosure isn't just a nice idea. In many states it's actually the law that those who are HIV or AIDS positive must notify their partners.

Notifying past partners

It can seem embarrassing and make you upset, but it's important that you notify any past or current partners about your HIV or AIDS status. Even if the state you live in does not require disclosure, you have a responsibility to let others know so they can get treated. Also, if you contracted the disease from an unwitting partner, they'll need to be tested and tell any partners they've had, too. Disclosure is a very important part of prevention.

Notifying potential partners

If you're pursing a relationship or sexual activity with someone, you need to let that person know of your status before you engage in sexual activity. There are ways to prevent the spread of disease so that your potential partner does not contract HIV or AIDS.

Always use a condom, dental dam, or other method to prevent the spread of disease

Condoms and dental dams prevent the spread of HIV. There are also doctor-prescribed medicines that can prevent the spread of HIV to your partners.

Learn about treatment and keep up on your care

Take World AIDS Day seriously by taking some time to learn about different types of treatment and care. Even if you never contract HIV, knowing what others go through can help you understand the disease.






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