According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1,189,700 people in the United States had HIV at the end of 2019 . HIV testing is crucial for treatment and prevention efforts and testing is much more widely available than before. Yet, approximately one in seven people (nearly 15%) are unaware of their infection status . Stigmatization and discrimination are notable barriers preventing people from testing and seeking care, with almost 8 in 10 American adults with HIV receiving care reporting feeling internalized HIV-related stigma .
Fortunately, private at-home HIV testing can enable people to combat stigma and encourage more testing. LetsGetChecked offers a range of discreet and confidential, at-home HIV Testing options for complete peace of mind. Our tests provide a great way for people to learn about their HIV status on their own time and in their own space, supporting better health outcomes.
The impact of HIV stigma and discrimination
HIV stigma and discrimination are among the major challenges faced by those living with the infection. A majority of HIV stigma is rooted in the fear of HIV with many misconceptions about how it is transmitted and what it means to live with it. These irrational or negative attitudes and judgments towards people living with or at risk of HIV can negatively affect health and well-being by discouraging some from learning their HIV status and accessing treatment.
People living with or at risk of HIV may avoid going to clinics out of fear that their status disclosed or suffering from further stigma and discrimination related to their status. A 2017 study found that one in five people living with HIV avoided going to a clinic or hospital because they feared stigma or discrimination related to their HIV status, and one in four people living with HIV have experienced discrimination in healthcare settings . As a result, many people choose to avoid clinical and community-based testing to avoid the stigma associated with testing and a positive test result.
The importance of timely HIV testing
Deferring HIV testing to avoid stigmatization and discrimination adversely impacts health outcomes since identification is crucial to connecting people to timely treatment. Those living with HIV who put off testing until they are very ill are less likely to respond to antiretroviral therapy (ART). Early HIV detection and treatment are essential as it reduces patient mortality and prevents future HIV transmission. This is crucial since about 40% of new HIV infections are transmitted by people undiagnosed and unaware they have HIV .
The earlier HIV diagnosis occurs, the earlier treatment can begin. ART is very effective when started before HIV symptoms are present. However, more than 33% of HIV-positive people are diagnosed in the later stages of the disease when they cannot experience the full benefits of early treatment. HIV testing is an important prevention effort with the ability to help reduce HIV-associated morbidity and mortality, decrease HIV transmission to others, and reduce the risk of serious non-AIDS‒related diseases.
How at-home testing can help people overcome HIV-related stigma
Seeking private HIV testing services can be difficult. Combined with social stigma, the inability to access discreet and confidential testing services can deter people from getting tested or seeking care. Fortunately, at-home testing allows people to test themselves and find out their results in their own homes. This safe and convenient testing option can increase the uptake of HIV testing. LetsGetChecked’s at-home HIV testing options increase confidentiality and privacy by meeting people where they are to empower them with crucial health insights and decrease stigma.