Have you been tested for HIV?
June 27, 2012 (WPVI) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spent Wednesday urging Americans to be tested for HIV.
An estimated 1.1 million Americans are infected with HIV, but as many as 20 percent of them don't know they carry the virus, according to the CDC. It can take a decade or more for an infection to cause symptoms and illness.
That's why Wednesday was designated at National HIV Testing Day.
Since 2006, the CDC has recommended that all Americans ages 13 to 64 get tested at least once, not just those considered at highest risk: gay men and intravenous drug users. But fewer than half of adults younger than 65 have been tested, according to the agency's most recent statistics.
It's important to know about infection not only for treating the condition but also to take steps to prevent spreading it to others. An HIV diagnosis used to be a death sentence, but medications now allow those infected to live longer and healthier lives.
The CDC has set up a website for you to find a testing center near you. CLICK HERE for the link.
This comes as the CDC announced a new pilot program for getting tested at your local pharmacy.
The $1.2 million program will offer the free rapid HIV tests at pharmacies and in-store clinics in 24 cities and rural communities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday.
"We believe we can reach more people by making testing more accessible and reduce the stigma associated with HIV," Dr. Kevin Fenton, who oversees the agency's HIV prevention programs, said in a statement.
The tests are already available at seven places, including Washington, D.C., Oakland, Calif., and an Indian health service clinic in Montana. The CDC will soon pick 17 more locations.
The HIV test is a swab inside the mouth; it takes about 20 minutes for a preliminary result. The test maker says it's correct 99 percent of the time. If the test is positive for the AIDS virus, pharmacy employees will refer customers to a local health department or other health care providers for a lab blood test to confirm the results, counseling and treatment. The workers are expected to deliver the news face-to-face and give customers privacy, the CDC said.
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