Although the AIDS scare of the 1980s and 1990s is past us, and most people tend to think of the disease as one reserved for gay men who practice unsafe sex, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, HIV is still very much alive and well, is transmitted frequently in the American population and worldwide, and still develops into full-blown AIDS in many of its patients. Before you dismiss this sexually transmitted disease (or STD) as one that can’t happen to you, it’s time to get informed.
What Is HIV (and What Is AIDS)?
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, a disease that was first introduced into the human population as far back as the 1800s from chimpanzees. Chimps have a closely related virus known as simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV, which humans contracted when hunting chimps and eating them as meat. Once inside human hosts, the virus mutated.
“Over decades, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world,” say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “We know that the virus has existed in the United States since at least the mid to late 1970s.” (1) From there, it caused a panic that most everyone remembers, or at least remembers hearing about, that only died down due to effective antiviral treatments and greater awareness of the disease.
As HIV.gov explains, “HIV is a virus spread through certain body fluids that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells, often called T cells. These special cells help the immune system fight off infections. Untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease.” (2)
Once the body can no longer fight off opportunistic infections and cancer, the person is said to have acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. These patients rarely live very long with full-blown AIDS, dying due to the other diseases that take advantage of their weakened immune system.
Sadly, this is far from a common disease.
How Common Is HIV?
The HIV and AIDS epidemic are still very serious today: “There were approximately 36.9 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS in 2017,” says HIV.gov. “Of these, 1.8 million were children.” An additional 1.8 million people were infected in 2017, which translates to roughly 5,000 new infections per day. Only about 75 percent of people who have HIV even know it, which means there are 9 million people in the world who lack access to adequate testing services. (3)
Fortunately, in more developed countries such as the United States, testing is a lot easier. While the story is significantly less grim, it’s still an issue. Here in the U.S. one in seven people is still unaware of their infection, which means they can easily pass it on to others without knowing.
Additionally, “In 2017, 38,739 people received an HIV diagnosis in the U.S. and 6 dependent areas.” Of these, “Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men bear the greatest burden by risk group, representing an estimated 26,000 of new HIV infections per year.” (4)
How Can You Avoid HIV?
The best way to avoid the consequences of HIV – and to avoid passing the disease on to someone else – is to practice safe sex. That means:
- Wearing condoms or internal barrier devices with all unknown partners
- Using a new condom every time you have sex
- Asking your partners to get tested before you have sex
- Always making decisions about your sexual health with a clear head and without drugs or alcohol in your system
Also, you should always use a clean needle if you are going to do intravenous drugs. Ideally you won’t do this, but if you’re going to anyway, seek out government aid programs that provide clean needles to at least halt the spread of infection.
It is especially important to take safe sex precautions if you are a gay or bisexual man. Because the tissue of the anus is so delicate and prone to ripping, it offers easy entry and egress for the disease, making it much easier to spread among this population. And unfortunately, even the safest sex isn’t always safe enough, which is where testing comes in.
Why Should You Get Tested?
In addition to the fact that HIV ends lives every year, it’s important to get tested for the sake of the rest of the population. HIV can pass from mother to baby, resulting in thousands of children born with the disease every year. Also, when HIV spreads to less populated and underserved areas and countries, it is far less likely to get treated in time/at all.
Another good reason for frequent testing is so that you can catch other STDs. Some diseases, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, make it more likely that you can catch HIV. If you want to avoid this potentially fatal virus, it’s critical that you stay on top of your sexual health at all times, year after year, no matter how much you trust your current partner(s).
Luckily, science has advanced to the point that home testing is easy, affordable and reliable. Time you found out more.
What Is a Home Test Kit?
Many people avoid getting tested because it is embarrassing, expensive, a hassle, or all of the above. The good news is that doesn’t have to be the case anymore. iDNA now provides top-of-the-line, cutting-edge STD tests that are just as reliable as those used in any clinic, hospital or doctor’s office. The difference is, you can take them in the privacy, comfort and security of your own home.
All you have to do is order the kit online, wait for it to arrive on your doorstep in an unmarked box, follow the instructions to collect the sample, mail it in to our lab and wait for results. Once you register online, you can track the progress of your results every day, and reach out to our team with questions if you desire. We’re all about keeping you healthy, today and every day, so you can count on us.
Remember, regular testing is part of a healthy sex life. If you’d like to learn more about our effective, private home STD kits, get in touch with us or order yours online today!
(1) About HIV/AIDS. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html
(2) What Are HIV and AIDS? (2017). Retrieved from https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/what-are-hiv-and-aids
(3) Global Statistics. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/what-are-hiv-and-aids
(4) U.S. Statistics. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/statistics