HealthSponsoredByToday, in honor of National HIV Testing Day, Public Health Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) encourages you to get tested for HIV. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS.

One in 8 people living with HIV in the U.S. don’t know they have it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises HIV testing as a part of routine health care, but many Americans (43%) have never been tested or are not being tested as often as recommended.

“HIV testing should be an ongoing conversation with your health care provider and any partners. Honest, open communication helps keep you and our community healthy,” says Karri Bartlett, Community Health Supervisor at PHMDC.

More than 90% of new HIV infections in the United States could be prevented by testing and diagnosing people living with HIV and making sure they receive early, ongoing treatment.

Here in Dane County, 20 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2015, totaling approximately 822 people in the county who currently live with HIV. Today, someone with HIV can live a healthy normal lifespan and greatly reduce their chance of passing HIV to others.

The best approach to HIV is to prevent it. Prevention basics include using condoms correctly and consistently, getting STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing, and using sterile needles. Another prevention option for those at very high risk of HIV infection is pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – a medication that works to keep the virus from taking hold in your body.

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must cover HIV testing. Talk to your insurance company or health care provider to learn more. PHMDC also offers free walk-in HIV testing, many times with same-day results. For details and the clinic schedule, click here.

Free testing as well as a full range of medical services and social support is also available through the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. More information about their services can be found here. You can also call them at (608) 252-6540.