Living Well

Know your HIV status

Sadie Beckett
Know your HIV status

National HIV Testing Day is on June 27, 2021. This day was created to bring awareness to the importance of HIV testing and to diminish stigma as it relates to HIV and to HIV testing.

HIV stigma negatively effects the lives of people living with HIV and it prevents HIV testing. Ineffective HIV testing can lead to:

  • Unknown rates of HIV in communities
  • Increase in HIV and AIDS-related illnesses due to lack of HIV treatment
  • Continued HIV stigma in communities which leads to negative health outcomes

Knowing your status allows a person to live a healthy life and to protect others. There are several methods to getting tested for HIV. These include:

  • At home testing
  • Testing in a clinic
  • Testing at health fairs
  • Asking your primary care doctor to order an HIV test

A person can choose how they would like to be tested based off their preference and whichever way is convenient to them. HIV testing is fast, easy, confidential, effective and safe. A finger prick test can result in as little as 1 minute and is around 99% accurate.

The CDC recommends that anyone from the ages 13-64 should be tested at least once in their life and more if they are at higher risk.

HIV tests are covered by all insurance plans without a co-pay. If a person does not have medical insurance, there are some testing sites that test for free.

If a person tests positive for HIV, they can be started on HIV medications as soon as the same day. HIV medications are very effective if taken as prescribed and work to control the virus in the body. HIV medicine can decrease the amount of HIV in the blood (viral load) to very low levels- levels that cannot be detected by blood tests (undetectable). Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load is the most effective thing a person can do to stay healthy. If a person’s viral load stays undetectable, they have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.

Our Infectious Disease Clinic offers free HIV testing Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Patients are always welcome to walk-in for testing. There are also several testing sites throughout New Orleans.

If you have any questions, please call the Infectious Disease Clinic at 504.702.4344 or call Sadie Beckett, Clinical Educator at 504.702.5255. Our team is here to answer any questions you may have about HIV testing.
 

Woman smiling with curly hair and glasses Sadie Beckett is a Clinical Educator in the Infectious Disease Clinic at University Medical Center. She earned her Master of Public Health from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. While in graduate school, she was a research associate on HIV research studies and interned with community organizations that focused on HIV testing and linkage to care.