Guest Blog: National HIV Testing Day: HIV Testing is Self-Care
Talking about HIV testing as part of everyday conversations helps to address and stop HIV stigma.
By: Robyn Neblett Fanfair, MD, MPH, CDC, Division of HIV Prevention
National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) is Monday, June 27th. This year, NHTD will focus on HIV testing as an act of self-care. The COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on access to HIV testing and care-related services; many people had to put their health checkups and tests on hold, making it even more important to take time now for both your physical and mental health. This NHTD, CDC encourages you to add HIV testing to your self-care routine because your health matters. Everyone ages 13-64 should test for HIV at least once as part of routine health care, and more often for persons at higher risk for getting HIV.
There are free, easy, fast, and confidential HIV testing options available. HIV self-tests can be done when and where you choose, or you can find a testing location near you using CDC’s service finder. When you get an HIV test, you gain knowledge and power. Knowing your status helps to keep you and your partner healthy. Testing is the first step to engaging in HIV prevention or treatment services.
Talking about HIV testing as part of everyday conversations helps to address and stop HIV stigma. HIV stigma is the use of certain words that can negatively affect people at risk for or with HIV. Stigma can have a negative impact on self-care behaviors like routinely testing for HIV. It is important to address HIV stigma among high-risk populations and encourage HIV testing as self-care. Working together, we can reduce stigma, promote self-care, and disrupt systems that divide people based on their identities. When we support people with HIV, we make it easier for them to lead healthy lives.
Through the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign, CDC raises awareness about the importance of HIV testing and early diagnosis. We encourage you to join us in taking action on National HIV Testing Day and throughout the year.
Here are three things you can do to get involved:
- Encourage your friends, family, and your community to know their HIV status. Many community organizations will offer free HIV testing on June 27. Ask someone to join you to get tested or to pledge to get tested.
- Address and reduce HIV stigma. Be active in stopping HIV stigma. Let’s Stop HIV Together has tips on how to stop stigma and give people with HIV a voice, as well as their friends and family. Use the Stop HIV Stigma pledge cards to commit to helping create and sustain communities that promote awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people with HIV.
- Talk about HIV in your communities—online and off—to help normalize conversations. Share social media graphics and posts from the CDC National HIV Testing Day digital toolkit. Use these resources to connect with your community and engage people in conversations about HIV testing.