National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) was first observed on June 27, 1995, when it was organised by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), as a day each year to encourage people to get tested for HIV and it has been held annually since then as a reminder for people to know their status and get linked to health care and treatment if needed. The idea behind this day is also to help reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS transmission by helping people know their status, based on the concept that if you know your status, then you can discuss your status. The day is now organised by the United States Department of Health and Human Service’s HIV.GOV program and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for HIV/AIDS.
Even though this day is primarily for those who reside in the United States of America, anyone can observe the day and get tested, no matter where they live, as there are testing options available all around the world. The theme for 2022 is “HIV Testing is Self-care” and the World Health Organisation (WHO) defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” The HIV.GOV website also states that “HIV testing is an act of self-care, and knowledge of status is the gateway to engaging in the prevention or treatment services that enable individuals, regardless of their status, to live a long and healthy life.”
On a personal note, I get tested for HIV every three months (March, June, September and December), on a schedule that makes remembering simple, but I would be happy to test outside this schedule if I engaged in a higher-risk sexual encounter to confirm whether there has been a change to my status. Some might question why bug chasers would want to get tested for HIV and the answer to this question might vary, but knowing your status can be an important part of the bug chasing process. You might be able to feel the virus within you without getting tested, but this might not be for some time once the virus becomes more advanced and you start experiencing some other symptoms. It really is a personal choice whether you choose to get tested and if so the frequency of testing, but since I include everything involving HIV/AIDS at this website, I felt as though it was important to mention this event for those who are interested.
You can also get tested from the comfort of your own home if you aren’t comfortable visiting a clinic to undertake this process, which is a luxury many didn’t have in the early days of HIV testing, when visiting a healthcare clinic was the only option. You can even get a free HIV self-test kit from Take Me Home, but please be aware that this kit requires you to mail your specimen back to a laboratory for testing, so you have to wait for the results and even more importantly, positive test results are reported to your local health department as a legal requirement, so this free option might not be the best option for you. If you are considering a home HIV test kit, consider getting yourself a rapid test kit, where the results are provided to you exclusively within 20 minutes.
As this article refers to a day of observation in the United States of America, you may be interested to know that in 2012, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had approved the first over-the-counter sale of a home HIV test kit that does not require sending a sample to a laboratory. The company that was granted this approval is OraSure Technologies, Inc. and their self-test involves an oral swab, that does not require a blood sample like many of the other home HIV testing kits. These kits can be purchased online or at a variety of physical stores without the need for a doctor’s prescription.
If you would like to learn more about the different type of HIV self-test kits available, check out my previous article here, which also includes links to websites where you can buy rapid HIV test kits from Australia, Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States. If you have taken a Rapid Antigen Test for COVID-19, then you will be familiar with how these kits work, as they are almost identical.
- HIV Self-Testing – https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/hiv-testing/hiv-self-tests.html
- HIV Testing Basics – https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/testing.html
- HIV Testing Overview – https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/hiv-testing/learn-about-hiv-testing/hiv-testing-overview
- National HIV Testing Day #HIVTestingDay – https://www.hiv.gov/events/awareness-days/hiv-testing-day
Featured Photo: © Can Stock Photo / Pfeiffer
Article ID: CC042
Version Control: 1.0 – June 27, 2022: Original article published.