By Josh Duyker
Be it financial, professional or social, status plays a big part in our everyday lives. One status that can be overlooked and stigmatised is HIV status. Everyone has a HIV status; be it positive with a detectable viral load, positive with an undetectable viral load, negative or unknown. It is especially important at this point in time to know your HIV status as we had a record year for new HIV diagnoses in 2014. If more people engaged in regular testing and were aware of their HIV status, there would be a reduction in new cases of HIV in Australia.
So why is it important to know your HIV status?
First and foremost, it is in the best interest for your health to know your overall sexual health status, not just your HIV status. If you do have HIV or an STI, you can potentially prevent from passing it onto your sexual partner/s. Most importantly, if you do discover you have HIV or an STI, early detection is key. The earlier HIV is detected, the sooner you can start treatment and live a long, healthy and fulfilling life.
Why don’t people know their status?
There are many barriers to people not engaging with regular HIV testing or sexual health screening. They may not believe that they are engaging in risk behaviours (such as unprotected anal intercourse) or they may be engaging in risk behaviours and are potentially afraid of the test result. Other reasons can be access to services, financial reasons or that their sexual health is just not a priority – the list goes on.
Although the main risk behaviours for HIV haven’t changed (unprotected anal intercourse and sharing needles), the way we look at and treat HIV is different now. HIV is now a chronic manageable condition and treatment can be as simple as one pill a day. HIV testing can be as easy as a finger prick and the results are ready in 20 minutes.
Know your HIV Status. Go to www.chep.hiv to learn more about HIV and to find your closest HIV testing location in Queensland.