Cincinnati VA Medical Center
Know your HIV status?
July is National Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Awareness Month.
What is HIV?
HIV is a virus. Some viruses, such as the ones that cause colds or flu, stay in the body for only a few days. HIV, however, never goes away. A person who is infected with HIV is said to be "HIV positive." Once a person is HIV positive, that person will always be HIV positive.
According to the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics approximately 1 in 7 people living with HIV don’t know it. HIV can affect anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender or age. However, certain groups are at higher risk for HIV, because of risk factors.
Who should get tested?
The CDC recommends that all adults in the United States get tested for HIV infection at least once, regardless of risk factors, and that they be tested repeatedly if there is an ongoing risk of HIV infection. risk factors. VA also recommends regular testing for those with ongoing risk of infection. That way, people who are infected will be diagnosed early and can get the most benefits from treatment.
HIV Coordinator Molly McElfresh, APRN NP-C shared, “there is free lab testing for every Veteran, you don’t need an appointment and you can be tested at the 2nd floor walkup lab 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Veterans only need to sign a Phlebotomy form, so we can notify you of your results.”
“If you are positive for HIV, you want to make sure you are not transmitting it to your loved ones. If you do not have HIV but are at risk to being exposed, there are preventative healthcare options available and you can talk to your Primary Care Provider about whether it might be the right treatment decision for you,” shared McElfresh.
Thank you to, HIV Coordinator Molly McElfresh, APRN NP-C from the Medical Healthcare Line for sharing the information regarding the importance of Veteran healthcare.
Lisa Hollenbeck is a Public Affairs Specialist at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center and is a Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. She was stationed at Kaneohe Bay, HI and served as a Trumpet player in the Marine Forces Pacific Band.
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