|Public Domain - President Barack Obama, 2009|
Reason enough for us to start a whole series on Smarten Up on HIV. So you think you know HIV? Its meaning, history, new developments like PEP and PrEP? We bring you up to date on today’s knowledge and are honored that Dr. William Owen, veteran in the HIV field is taking that journey with us!
So what is HIV and AIDS? Are they the same? What’s the difference?
So just like with our HPV and Michael Douglas’ cunnilingus post, let us start with the basics and that is the words themselves and how they differ from each other. You don’t want to read anymore? Then good news, we actually made a video for you:
So to summarize again:
- HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. So it is a virus that targets us (humans) and leads to a failure of the natural defense mechanisms of our body (immune system).
- AIDS on the other hand stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. So it is an obtained condition caused by a failure of the natural defense mechanism of your body. In other words AIDS is the result of an untreated HIV infection.
- As Dr. Owen points out, you can remember the difference easily by the V (think of ‘virus’) in HIV and the D (think of ‘disease’) in AIDS.
The reason for the two names is that AIDS was a description of that new condition witnessed in the 80ies before it was even known that a virus caused the syndrome. So the two names have an historical origin. Confusing, yes and its still hard for many to grasp the difference. Take the recently published comic book “AIDS in the End Zone”. Jacob from the HIVPlusMag correctly points out that the title should be “HIV in the End Zone” since none of the characters actually develops AIDS.
So Who should get tested?We will get into more details how HIV works and how to protect yourself in a later episode of Smarten Up. For Testing Day, let us focus on who should get tested. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends with the highest grade that
- Everyone between the age of 15 and 65 should get screened for HIV as part of their routine health care.
- All pregnant women who don’t know their status should get tested for HIV
- Younger adolescent and older adults should get tested if they are at increased risk such as: men who have sex with men, using injection based drugs, having unprotected sex, having more than one sex partner, having a partner who has HIV infection (magnetic couple), and exchanging sex for drugs or money.
HIV Test Locator
To make it really easy, you can use the AIDS.GOV test locator below. Just put in your Zip code and it will show you the nearest test center. Of course, you can also obtain a saliva based HIV home test from us!
Your Mission for today
Thanks a lot for reading this far. I hope you now have a better picture of what HIV is and who should get tested. Also, you learned that about 300,000 Americans are estimated to live with HIV without knowing it. So let us work together to make HIV testing as normal as going to the dentist.
So here are your mission objectives:
- If you are in one of the categories above, go and get tested TODAY! Either in a test center near you or with a home test.
- Convince at least 3 family members or friends that fall in the category above to get tested. Share on Facebook and share on twitter to get the word out!
Alright, now its time for me to walk the talk. Looking at the recommendation above, that includes me. So I’m off to get tested... until next time!