Rapid HIV Test Could Reduce Stigma and Curtail Disease

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched an initiative to motivate people to get tested for HIV. A free rapid test is being offered in select pharmacies nationwide, within their small clinics, which involves a swab test that renders results in approximately 20 minutes, the Associated Press reports. If the result is positive, the patient is sent to a department of health or other clinic to have the result confirmed by blood test.

With an estimated 1.1 million Americans infected with the disease and an estimated 20 percent of them unaware, this is a wise move to help to curtail the spread of the disease. So many people are unaware of the facts about HIV and AIDS that perhaps being confronted by the testing center and the information offered there will prompt people to know more. In the back of so many minds is the fear the possibility of infection exists.

Too many people still believe HIV and AIDS are the disease of gay men and drug users. While statistics still confirm these groups are still at higher risk, the truth is the condition is increasing in women, particularly minority women. HIV is more easily spread from man to woman because the virus exists in a man's semen, which can live inside the vagina for several days. But the female bodily fluids from which a man can contract the virus through intercourse with a woman have more limited means to enter the penis and infect a man's body.

In order for this condition to be dealt with, the stigma must decrease. There have been tremendous strides made in regard to treating the disease, making it possible for those infected to live productive and happy lives, to enjoy careers and have families. In fact, with treatment, the chances of a woman passing along the virus to her unborn child are reduced to as low as 2 percent.

Symptoms of the illness often don't appear for nearly 10 years in many patients. It is important to be tested for this virus, regardless of whether any sexual partners "appear" to be ill and whether a person has had few or several partners. It's better to know early. Though there is no cure, treatment is possible to help to maintain a normal life.

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