Valley City Times-Record

Your Health: World AIDS Day, Dec. 1

- Samantha Storhoff is a licensed practical nurse working at City-County Health District. Your Health is coordinate­d by City-County Health District.

World AIDS Day is Thursday, December 1. World AIDS Day, designated since 1988, is an internatio­nal day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.

Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful informatio­n to keep you and your partner healthy.

If your test result is positive, you can take medicine to treat the virus. HIV treatment reduces the amount of HIV in your blood (viral load). Taking HIV treatment as prescribed can make the viral load so low that a test can’t detect it (undetectab­le viral load). Getting and keeping an undetectab­le viral load (or staying virally suppressed) is the best way to stay healthy and protect others.

If your test result is negative, you can take actions to prevent HIV.

CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care, and more often if you do things that might increase your chance of getting HIV.

Even if both you and your partner are having sex only with each other, you should both find out your HIV status.

People with certain risk factors should get tested more often.

Before having sex for the first time with a new partner, talk about your sexual and drug-use history, disclose your HIV status, and consider getting tested for HIV together.

If you’re a sexually active gay or bisexual man, you may benefit from more frequent testing (every 3 to 6 months). Talk to your health care provider about your risk factors and what testing options are available to you.

In North Dakota, free testing is available for anyone at risk of HIV and/or hepatitis C infection. Individual­s can contact City-County Health District at 845-8518 to request an appointmen­t for testing.

If you prefer to test at home, North Dakota Department of Health offers free self-collection STI testing. Testing can be done completely at home. You can test free of charge when you collect and return your sample within 30 days. Visit nddoh. mybinxheal­ or search for NDDOH Free SelfCollec­tion STI Testing Program.

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