When it comes to women and HIV, some might think that there’s little need to get tested – but that’s far from the truth. In fact, women account for 1 in 4 HIV infections in the United States, and it’s mostly contracted through heterosexual contact (84%).
In honor of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Day, let’s encourage the ladies we love to know their status. You can help by sharing these five reasons that women should get tested for HIV.
1. You’re sexually active.
Sex is the #1 risk factor when it comes to contracting HIV. High-risk activities include having sex with multiple partners, having unprotected sex (sex without a condom) and anal sex, but no matter what, it’s important to understand that sex is the most common way women become infected with HIV.
If you’re a sexually active woman, protect your health by getting a free HIV test.
2. You don’t know his status.
It’s impossible to look at someone and “know” their HIV status – and if you start having unprotected sex without talking about the last time you both were tested, you may be putting yourself at risk.
Whether you’re in a long-term, monogamous relationship or are becoming sexually active with a new partner, take charge of your health and get tested. Some HIV test sites even let you get tested together, which will help you make decisions about protecting both of you.
3. You tested positive for an STD.
Having an STD significantly increases your chances of contracting HIV. In fact, an untreated STD can make you two to five times more likely to become infected with HIV if exposed. If you suspect or tested positive for an STD, ask your doctor for an HIV test, too.
4. You are or want to become pregnant.
About 1 in 7 people in the U.S. who are HIV positive don’t know it. If a woman is HIV positive but doesn’t know her status, she may accidentally transmit the virus to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
Luckily, women can protect their newborn babies from HIV if they know their status. Treatment can reduce the risk of women transmitting HIV to their babies to less than 1%.
5. You want to protect the ones you love.
Stopping the spread of HIV starts with knowing your status. If you test positive, you’ll be able to take steps to prevent transmitting the virus to your partner, newborn or other loved ones.
Making HIV testing part of your healthcare routine may also inspire your family members and loved ones to take charge of their health, too. If you want those closest to you to stay healthy, why not lead by example?