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Getting Tested Is First Step In Controlling HIV/AIDS

This man is giving a free HIV test as part of National HIV Testing Day, June 27, 2013, in Atlanta, Georgia. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

This man is giving a free HIV test as part of National HIV Testing Day, June 27, 2013, in Atlanta, Georgia. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

The International AIDS Conference is being held this week (July 18 – 22) in Durban, South Africa. It is the largest conference on HIV related issues.

A diagnosis of HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence. There is no cure but improvements in treatments have made the disease manageable. But it is only manageable if those infected can get treatment.

Getting tested for HIV is simple and fast. Results come in just about five minutes.

VOA recently visited NovaSalud in Falls Church, Virginia. The organization works to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS and other diseases passed through sex. These are called sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs.

A man calling himself Rigo is also at the site. He is there to be tested. He says "It is important because one never knows what is going on with their partner" or partners in the past.

A woman is also getting tested. She says, "For me it's very important to do an HIV test because we take care of our family and friends. Because if you don't know, how would you know if you are infecting a loved one?"

HIV/AIDS is both treatable and preventable. People who have the AIDS virus can live normal lives as long as they stay on treatment.

Tom Frieden is director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He says the number of AIDS cases has gone down in most parts of U.S. society.

“We've seen huge decreases in heterosexual transmission -- more than two-thirds -- 80% reductions, generally. We've seen the huge decreases in injection drug use as a cause of transmission. But among young men who have sex with men, we've seen increases in HIV infections.”

Rodney McCoy is Program Coordinator and Health Educator at NovaSalud. He says the numbers show that in the U.S. gay and bisexual Latino men are most at risk. He adds that there are similar trends among African-Americans.

"Women of childbearing age and young, black, gay and bisexual men seem to most at risk for HIV, for new cases of HIV infections. And then when we look at who progresses from HIV on to AIDS, again blacks and Latinos are most at risk for that."

McCoy says openly recognizing that there is a stigma connected to HIV/AIDS is an important first step.

"The first thing we do is we acknowledge that there is a stigma."

A stigma is a disapproving and often unfair belief that a society or group have about something. The power of stigma keeps people around the world from being tested and getting treatment.

Rodney McCoy and other public health professionals say HIV testing has to become a usual part of health care.

"If you go to the doctor to get your blood work for cholesterol, for high blood pressure. Why not start including HIV and STDs?"

The goal everywhere is to get to the point where:

  • 90 percent of those with HIV know it,
  • 90 percent of the infected get treatment and
  • 90 percent of those people reduce the virus in their blood so much that it can't be found.

The theory is that this will end AIDS as a global public health threat by 2030.

I’m Anna Matteo.

Carol Pearson wrote this story for VOA News in Washington. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Test your understanding of this article with this short quiz.


Words in This Story

sexually transmitted disease – n. medical : any one of various diseases that a person can get by having sex with a person who has the disease

similar – adj. almost the same as someone or something else

trend – n. the general movement over time of a statistically detectable change

childbearing – adj. of or relating to the process of conceiving, being pregnant with, and giving birth to children

gay – adj. sexually attracted to someone who is the same sex

bisexual – adj. sexually attracted to both men and women

heterosexual – adj. of, relating to, or involving sexual intercourse between individuals of opposite sex

transmission – n. the act or process by which something is spread or passed from one person or thing to another

blood work – n. the diagnostic testing of blood

cholesterol – n. a substance that is found in the bodies of people and animals

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