HIV is the virus that can lead to AIDS. A lot has changed about HIV/AIDS over the past 30 years. People with HIV are living longer and better, thanks to improved treatments. Dr. Stacey Rizza, an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic, says it's important to know your HIV status. Since 1995, National HIV Testing Day has been held on June 27.
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"A little over a million people are living with HIV in the U.S. right now," says Dr. Rizza. "Unfortunately, it’s estimated that around 15 to 20 percent, depending on the numbers you look at, of people in the U.S. who are infected with HIV right now don’t know they’re infected."
HIV testing is a first step in stopping the spread of the virus. Followed by treatment. "The way we do that is through anti-retroviral therapy or a combination of HIV medicines that treat HIV," says Dr. Rizza.
HIV is a serious infection but can be well-managed for those who seek care.
"Treatment is prevention," says Dr. Rizza. "Treating your infected members of society prevents transmission to other members." But she says people first need to be tested and diagnosed.