Did you know that an estimated 1 in 4 people with HIV do not know that they have HIV? This is one of the many reasons for National HIV Testing Day, on June 27.
The CDC is currently recommending that the nation’s healthcare providers offer HIV testing to all individuals from the ages of 13 to 64, without regard to identified risk factors. While this testing may reveal the HIV status of more people, it fails to educate test takers about HIV transmission or provide care to those who test positive.
In response to this Lambda Legal, working with other HIV legal, medical and service providers including the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the Center for HIV Law and Policy, launched a set of guiding principles to highlight the fundamentals of effective HIV testing. The guidelines emphasize that testing must be informed, voluntary, confidential and pay attention to the continuing health needs of people with HIV and give respect for the civil and human rights of patients. “We cannot lose sight of the people who will be tested,” said Bebe J. Anderson, HIV Project Director of Lambda Legal. “Respect for the civil and human rights of patients must be at the heart of successful efforts to increase testing.”
The General Public Lacks Basic Information About HIV Transmission
Far too many people still lack basic knowledge about how HIV is and is not transmitted. According to a 2006 national survey conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation:
- 37 percent mistakenly believed that HIV could be transmitted through kissing.
- 22 percent mistakenly believed that transmission could occur through sharing a drinking glass.
- 16 percent mistakenly believed that transmission could occur through touching a toilet seat.
- And more than 4 in 10 adults held at least one of the above misconceptions about HIV transmission.
Find out more about the importance of HIV testing and how to break down barriers to it in the joint publication from Lambda Legal and the ACLU, “Increasing Access to Voluntary HIV Testing: The Continuing Relevance of Stigma and Discrimination.”