Recent statistics show that HIV is on the rise in Albuquerque — but that is largely because many patients are being identified who previously were unaware of their HIV-positive status.
More people are getting tested, and that means that more cases are being identified early. This will help with prevention and broaden the treatment options for newly-diagnosed HIV-positive patients. It also starts an important conversation about awareness.
Awareness is the Key to Prevention
Understanding HIV is the first and most crucial step in preventing its spread. Simply by starting a conversation about the virus – who is at risk, how it is transmitted, what a patient’s options are after being infected – can put myths to rest and encourage healthy decisions.
HIV is not something that’s well understood by the average person. It’s not discussed at length in school, and many people’s understanding of the disease is clouded by myths and misunderstandings. There’s also a stigma surrounding it, especially since it’s so closely tied to sexuality and intimacy. But staying silent about HIV doesn’t help anyone.
Who is Most At-Risk for HIV?
Although anyone can potentially contract HIV, the majority of cases are seen in what’s called the “MSM” population, or men who have sex with men. Many of these individuals do not self-identify as gay or bisexual, and they may avoid being tested for HIV either out of fear of being outed or simply because they don’t think it’s necessary. In either case, they put themselves and their potential lovers at risk.
Many people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in Albuquerque waited far too long to seek testing. Identifying the virus early in infection is crucial to a successful treatment and management program that can allow a patient to live a normal life. Waiting until the disease has advanced robs a person of years of health he could have otherwise enjoyed.
Getting tested for HIV is free, discreet and confidential at UNM Truman Health Services.