HIV is scary, but it also seems like the sort of thing from which we’re pretty far removed. People even joke about HIV now, so how much of a threat can it be, right? Right?
Well, like it or not, HIV is still a pretty big deal, and the stigma associated with HIV is almost as bad as the illness itself. As if it weren’t bad enough to have HIV, people also have to worry about being judged for having it–or even just for getting tested for it.
That very stigma and that very judgment are big reasons why HIV is so prevalent and why so many people still suffer from and contract the virus every year: 1.2 million people have HIV in the U.S. and 50,000 more people are infected every year. The scariest part? About 25 percent of people who have HIV don’t even know it. People are scared of the looks, gossip and glares they’ll get if they get tested for the disease, so they just don’t get HIV screenings at all.
The Center for Disease Control is on a mission to change that. Their new guidelines suggest that everyone between the ages of 15 and 65 be screened for HIV, even if they’re not considered to be in a high-risk category for the disease. (High risk categories, according to the CDC, include the economically disadvantaged, who often don’t have access to healthcare or contraceptive options, drug users and gay or bisexual males.) Pregnant women are recommended to be screened for the illness as well, regardless of age.
The good news about mandatory HIV screenings? They’ll likely be covered by the Affordable Care Act, and if everyone has to get one, there will be much less of a stigma associated with getting tested. And that’s how it should be. No one should be judged for taking his or her health seriously and behaving responsibly!
Do you think everyone 15 to 65 years old should get HIV screenings? Do you think the CDC’s recommendation for HIV testing will lessen the stigma associated with HIV tests? Have you ever had an HIV screening? Tell us in the comments!