There have been many strides to combat the spread of HIV over the past several decades. Prevention efforts and awareness campaigns have detoured the spread drastically. One part of the United States however, is still seeing a high volume of newly diagnosed HIV cases. The 16 states that make up the southern region of the U.S. now account for 52% of newly diagnosed HIV cases. This shows a great need for HIV testing in that region.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 40,000 newly diagnosed cases of HIV each year. While major U.S. cities like New York and Los Angeles were the center for HIV infection in the early days of the 1980s, over the past several years it has shifted to the southern states. Health officials in that region have cited several reasons for this shift.
The first reason cited is a severe lack of accurate HIV prevention education. Many states in the south do not have laws for mandating students go through sexual health education at all, let alone providing education on HIV prevention. Furthermore, this lack of education has allowed much of the stigma attached to a HIV diagnosis to continue. The lack of communication helps to foster a fear of HIV and can actually deter many who are at risk for the infection from getting tested.
After decades of research and treatment development, HIV is no longer the death sentence it was once considered. With new treatments and by detecting the infection early, people who are diagnosed with HIV can lead long and healthy lives. If left untreated HIV can eventually develop into AIDS. If this happens your body becomes more vulnerable to other infections. These infections are what kills people with HIV.
If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to HIV or any other STD, you should be tested right away. Sometimes, symptoms of an infection will not be present but the infection can still be spread to your sexual partners and cause damage to your health.
The key to combating the spread of HIV in the southern U.S. and elsewhere is through regular HIV testing for at risk individuals. The CDC recommends that all sexually active people who are between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once in their life for HIV. The CDC also points out that men are more often diagnosed with HIV, especially men who have sex with other men. They recommend that people who fall into this group get tested more often.