ABWW Action Alert: Get Tested!!!!

Sunday, June 27 is National HIV Testing Day, and state health officials are taking the opportunity to remind black women of the importance of getting tested for HIV, especially for pregnant women.

In patients younger than 13 years of age, nearly all cases of HIV transmission occur from mother to baby during pregnancy and delivery. Very frequently, women are unaware of their status and their risk. With intervention during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, transmission from mother to baby can be decreased from 25 to 30 percent down to 1 to 2 percent.

Once a woman’s HIV status is documented, oral medication can be started during pregnancy, continued through labor, and then given to the baby for 6 weeks. This will decrease the chances of passing HIV onto the baby—less than 2 percent chance of becoming infected. This approach has been verified in medical studies and has proven effective. Long term side effects on the fetus and children exposed to the medications have not been seen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends all individuals ages 13 to 64 receive voluntary routine HIV counseling and testing. HIV counseling and testing allows people with HIV to take steps to protect their own health and well-being, as well as that of their partners and families, and helps people who test negative get the information they need to stay uninfected.

African-American women are the fastest growing population of new HIV cases. “They account for nearly half the reported cases among women in Indiana. It’s important that all people, but especially women, understand the risks for becoming infected with HIV, and how to prevent it. As much as brothers on the downlow has publicized heterosexual men and those who have been in prison are also responsible for the skyrocketing rate of infection in black women.

Tests take just a few minutes and results are typically available in two weeks, although most sites have Rapid HIV Antibody testing available. Both confidential and anonymous tests are available. National HIV Testing Day is an annual campaign coordinated by the National Association of People with AIDS. It was launched more than a decade ago to promote early detection. Its purpose is to encourage people of all ages to “Take the Test, Take Control.” Early HIV diagnosis is important, so people who are infected can benefit from available life-saving treatments.

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