By: staff
National HIV Testing Day is recognized annually on June 27 to encourage people of all ages to "Take the Test and Take Control."

The Niagara County Department of Health will acknowledge National HIV Testing Day at its Sexually Transmitted Disease clinic on June 26.

In the United States, nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV, and almost one in five don't know they are infected. Getting tested is the first step to finding out if you have HIV. If you have HIV, getting medical care and taking medicines regularly helps you live a longer, healthier life. It also lowers the chances of passing HIV on to others.

You owe it to yourself and those who love and depend on you to get treatment and stay healthy. You also owe it to anyone you have sex or share drugs with to know your status and know how not to share your virus with them. It is especially important for people in high-risk groups to get tested regularly. Some of the high-risk groups include sexually active teenagers, poor women of color, men who have sex with men and people who inject or snort drugs with others.

"Take the Test" -The CDC recommends that all adults and adolescents be tested at least once in their lifetime and individuals who practice more risky behaviors should be tested more frequently.Knowing your HIV status is a critical step toward stopping HIV transmission. If you know you are infected, you can take steps to protect your partners. Also, if you are infected, the sooner you find out, the sooner you can receive life-extending treatment.

"Take Control" - You can take control by getting tested, talking to your healthcare provider and learning about risk factors for acquiring HIV. Individuals who inject drugs should only use new, sterile needles and never share them. Reduce your number of sex partners and use a condom every time you have sex.

Talking openly about HIV can reduce the stigma that keeps too many people from seeking testing, prevention and treatment services and the support they need. HIV does not have to become part of your life. Don’t be afraid to talk about HIV prevention with family, friends and colleagues. Be a part of the solution."Take the test. Take control."

Free and confidential HIV testing and counseling is offered at the Niagara County Department of Health STD clinic every Monday and Wednesday from 9:30 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.

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