National HIV Testing Day: Let’s Stop HIV Together

Image: A diverse group of people standing together, holding hands, and wearing red ribbons. National HIV Testing Day logo with red ribbon and stethoscope on blue background. Text: National HIV Testing Day.

Content provided by Dr. Sara H. Bares, MD, FIDSA Associate Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases | Let’s Stop HIV Together Clinical Ambassador

National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) was first observed in the United States on June 27, 1995, and has been observed every year since.  Although much progress has been made in the last 29 years, we have a long way to go to successfully end the HIV epidemic. Currently, one in seven people with HIV (14%) are unaware of their status and thus at risk for disease progression and transmission to others.

This year’s NHTD theme is “Level up your self-love: check your status,” an important message that aims to emphasize the ways in which knowing our HIV status enables us to maximize our health. People who test negative for HIV can be offered HIV prevention tools such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and people who test positive for HIV can start antiretroviral therapy (ART) to stay healthy. HIV testing is widely available and can be accessed via Nebraska Medicine as well as community partners such as Nebraska AIDS Project, OneWorld Community Health Centers, North Omaha Area Health clinic, Charles Drew Health Center and the Douglas County Health Department. For those unable to travel to a testing site or who would like anonymity, self-testing kits such as the Together TakeMeHome kits are available at no cost.

While this year’s theme aims to empower community members to get tested for HIV as a form of self-care, I hereby call on providers to “level up” their game and screen all patients between the ages of 13 and 64 at least once during any medical encounter (and annually if they have ongoing risk factors). Nebraska is far behind the national testing goal (only 26% of adults living in Nebraska had ever had an HIV test as of 2022) but, together, we can change this.

I am proud to share that our partners in the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Emergency Department are now offering HIV tests along with other STI testing and we look forward to expanded testing throughout our hospital and medical center as we all work towards the goal of ending the HIV epidemic together.

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