Harrisburg, PA - Today, the Department of Health launched a multimedia campaign aimed at decreasing stigma surrounding HIV to encourage Pennsylvanians to get tested and treated for the disease. About 1.1 million people in the U.S. have HIV, and one in seven of them does not know they have it.
“One of the main barriers to getting tested is stigma surrounding HIV,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. The latest science shows that people living with HIV who take the proper medicine as prescribed have no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.”
HIV attacks the body’s immune system, so it can no longer fight off infections. If left untreated, a person can develop other serious infections or infection-related cancers. These infections can lead a person to develop AIDS, the most severe and last phase of HIV infection. Without treatment, people with AIDS typically are given a life expectancy of about three years.
It is recommended that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine healthcare. There is no cure for HIV, which is why is it is so important to get tested for the virus. Early detection and treatment of HIV can control the virus and make it undetectable, leading to a long, healthy life.
HIV stigma is the negative attitudes and beliefs about people living with HIV. To decrease stigma surrounding HIV, you should:
Know the facts about HIV and what it means to live with it so you can help eliminate any misconceptions associated with the disease;
Talk openly about HIV to help correct any wrong information and help others learn more about it; and
Take action by leading others with your supportive behaviors.
Anyone can get a free and confidential HIV screening at any department-supported testing site.
For more information on HIV testing, visit the Department of Health’s website at www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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