Everyone Should Get Tested For HIV

23 06 2011

June 27, 2011, is the 17th annual National HIV Testing Day. It follows on the passing of the 30th anniversary of the day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a deadly new syndrome, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Three decades later, many things have changed about infection with HIV, including life expectancy, groups that it infects the most, and ever-evolving treatment successes.

Why get tested? Because the earlier you get treated, the better it is for you and for people at risk of acquiring infection from you. People who are under treatment are less likely to pass HIV to others than people who are going untreated. Without getting tested, you can’t know if you’re infected. Without getting treatment, you can’t keep yourself healthy or avoid endangering others.

You may be thinking that you’re someone who doesn’t need to get tested. Think again. The CDC says that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested at least once. If you’re sexually active or engaged in recreational drugs, you need to be tested. There are, of course, groups at higher risk for infection. According to the National Association of People with AIDS, these groups include:

  • younger sexually active teens
  • poor women of color
  • men who have sex with men
  • people who inject or snort drugs with others
  • sex workers or people who barter in sex for life necessities
  • people who live in HIV “hot spots,” places where infection rates are so high that anyone who is sexually active is at risk. These hotspots can sometimes encompass only a few city blocks.

How can you get tested? Depends on how you want to do it. It’s possible to test at home, sending in blood from a finger prick to a lab for analysis. You can buy such kits at drugstores, but doing it on your own means that you won’t receive appropriate counseling if the result comes back positive. In some places, people can get tested anonymously and still receive counseling. But for National HIV Testing Day, testing events are happening all over the United States. If you’re interested in finding a testing site near you, check this interactive map.

Each of the two types of tests available—one tests for antibodies the body makes if the virus is present, the other tests for the virus itself—requires only a blood draw or even just an oral swab for antibody testing. If you think you’ve recently been exposed to HIV, the viral load testing is the test you need. You can’t rely on the antibody test results if 3 to 6 months haven’t elapsed since exposure, as it takes that long for the antibodies to register.

An HIV test doesn’t take much investment in terms of money or blood or even time. But even in this age of improved therapies and life expectancies with infection, the results can literally mean life or death, not only for you but maybe for someone you love. If you haven’t been tested, isn’t that reason enough to make June 27, 2011, your day to get it done?

By Emily Willingham





Sabina Gets Active Against HCV

10 03 2011

(Guest post in a series from Sabina, our 15-year-old friend living with hepatitis C.)

Dear Readers,
 
Yesterday, I had my fourth interferon shot! And I didn’t feel any pain.

Yes, I was anxious but when I actually got the shot it was easy. So far, I’m lucky that I have not had any symptoms after the shot.

Sometimes I get headaches, nausea, and tired from the ribavirin pills. But I still feel upbeat and I’m really glad that so far I can do the sports I love to do.

Courtesy: Meredith James Johnstone

Last Tuesday, I started dance classes for the first time and I’m having great loads of fun. This Friday I have tryouts for volleyball. I’m excited for that. I don’t know if I can keep up both sports but I’m going to try.

Beyond sports, I feel like I’ve been able to do most activities and work at school. I haven’t missed any time, although I’ve been pretty tired. I’ve been going to bed early, like around 8 instead of 11.  That’s a big difference but I’m tired and I get to the point where I can’t keep my eyes open any more. This makes it harder to get my homework finished, but if I work on managing my time I can get everything done.

My parents say that if I get too tired I will have to let some activities go. I realize I shouldn’t overwork myself. But it feels good to be active and to have goals set for myself. 

One question I have for my readers is this—are there any other kids out there who are like me and going through this or thinking about getting treated? What are your views? What are the obstacles you are running into? And are you having any serious symptoms? I would love to hear from other people.





Finding Health Info on YouTube

29 06 2009

YouTube is a vast library of online videos.  There truly is something there for everyone.

This amount of content makes narrowing a search challenging, but doable.  It is possible to find quality health-related videos on YouTube.

sony-bravia-youtube

Creating An Account
Go to YouTube.com and create an account by clicking the Sign Up link on the top right.

As you’re filling in the blanks on the sign-up page, notice the little box that says, “Let others find my channel on YouTube if they have my email address.”

Channels are people’s accounts. Think of YouTube as a giant TV and everyone signed up, including you, is hosting his/her own channel. Yikes! Very crowded, but there are gems in the crowd.

Once done with the sign-up page, you’ll go to another page where you’ll type in your email and password.  At the end of this process, YouTube sends you an email asking you to confirm your account.  Follow the email instructions and you’ll soon be on your very own YouTube account page.  When you get there, look in the upper right corner of that page.  If your user name is there, you’re signed in and ready to go.

Your Page
Take a look at your personalized home page. The first option you have is Add/Remove Modules.  Click on that to go to Account Settings, where you pick and choose what you want to see on your home page (e.g. add/remove subscriptions, recommendations, friend activity, ect.).

Subscriptions is next (videos from channels to which you’re subscribed), then Recommendations (videos recommended by YouTube that you may like), followed by Friend Activity (videos your friends have uploaded), Featured Videos (videos that are featured on YouTube), and Videos Being Watched Now (which is self-explanatory).

Searching YouTube
Finding health channels to subscribe to is easy―just type a keyword (e.g HIV/AIDS, pertussis, H1N1, etc.) into the search box.

The search brings you results from Channels (other users’ accounts) and Playlists (a user-maintained list of videos).

Browse the channels and playlists and when you find something you like, click the gold Subscribe button on that page.

YouTube-CDC-Streaming-Health

Subscribing allows you to get up-to-date videos from the channels or playlists you select and feeds those videos to your home page.

When looking for a range of information providers to subscribe to, sorting by Playlist can be beneficial, as playlists may be made up of videos created by that particular user, or videos the user likes that are created by others, or a combination.

YouTube - health search

You can also click on the Community tab (see above) and browse videos by categories, shows, movies, channels, contests and events.

Once you’ve identified a health information source and determined its credibility, click subscribe.

The new videos from that user’s channel or playlist will then show up on your YouTube home page under subscription.

It is that easy, so jump in and don’t forget to find some funny vids to get you through the day.

Visit PKIDs and GETVAXED on YouTube, subscribe to our channels and check out our favorites.

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