Tuesday, July 17, 2012
2012 H.I.V. be Positive ... You're Negative
The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) has been making some major moves these past few weeks. Just earlier this month FDA approved the first over-the-counter H.I.V. test. If you have been tested for H.I.V. in the last decade, you are familiar with rapid testing. With this method you swab the inside of your mouth, and you get test results within 20 minutes. Similar to an at home pregnancy test, a negative test result does not necessarily put you 100% in the clear. You could possibly test to early to yield a positive result. Also, just like an at home pregnancy test, a positive result should prompt you to make an immediate doctor appointment for more accurate results.
The FDA also just approved the first pill to prevent the spread of H.I.V. The drug Truvada was used in a study, in which those who took the pill once everyday reduce their risk of infection by 70%. The use of this drug is not meant to take the place of condoms or other preventative care. This drug is more so for those individuals who are involved with partners/parents that are HIV positive.*
In the U.S. alone there are 50,000 new cases of H.I.V. every year. One in Five people infected with H.I.V. do not know they are infected. The U.S. is a leader of the First World, highly developed, but still suffers from this epidemic. So, lets not forget to consider those citizens of Third World countries that are also fighting the same epidemic. For these facts alone, I am excited about the new breaks in HIV research. But, for my audience (youth and young adults with daily access to social media) I am scared.
I hate to be one of little faith ... but with the new epidemic of teen pregnancy and the commonality of children out of wedlock, how can I optimistically believe that more people than not would make their partners submit to an on site HIV test, when we feel "awkward" asking them to use a condom? I cant stress enough, the fact that this new in home test and the approval of these new drugs should NOT be your only method for safe sex. Just because you test negative for HIV, won't mean you're negative of all other sexually transmitted diseases. Just because you take a pill everyday, doesn't mean you can't pass on some other life threatening disease. Can you picture our generation getting on board with the at home H.I.V. test, or would it be considered "doing to much"? Should the use of the test and/or pills prompt you to disregard the use of condoms? Should having this test in your bathroom cabinet be your hall pass to bring just anyone home to your bed?
I think these developments are good strides in the race for the cure of H.I.V. Knowing your status is a great way to prevent spread of the disease and therefore lower the number of new cases of H.I.V. each year. I think these developments can be a good thing, if we consider them to be extra tools to ensure our health and the health of those we are dealing with. We have to be smart and we have to remain safe. Take all the necessary precautions to be POSITIVE that you're NEGATIVE.
*The statements in this blog are based purely on my own personal understanding of articles from several different media outlets. You are always encouraged to do your own reading and generate your own point of view. My writing point of view is purposely created to generate critical thinking and discussion.