By Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For six years, federal health officials have recommended that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 to get tested at least once for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
But that push hasn’t been going so well. Fewer than half of adults who are sexually active have ever been tested, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Blame the perceived stigma and fear, says Terri Clark, prevention services coordinator at ActionAIDS in Philadelphia.
” ‘I don’t want to know — I don’t want to know I’m HIV positive. I’d rather not know.’ But it’s really important to know,” she tells KYW Newsradio, so you can take care of yourself and others.
“We really consider HIV a chronic disease now, and people are rarely dying of HIV anymore,” she notes.
She says it’s estimated that 5,000 people in Philadelphia are infected with HIV and don’t know it, with symptoms that can lay dormant for years.
This is National HIV Testing Day. The no-needle, simple mouth swab is available at dozens of locations in the area.
“It’s free testing. No one should ever be paying for HIV testing,” says Clark.
Find a test near you at http://hivtest.cdc.gov.