Disease Prevention Highlights

National HIV Testing Day: June 27

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD).  On this day, we remind everyone about the importance of HIV testing.  Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information.  It gives you the ability to stay healthy, regardless of what your status is.  There are now more ways than ever to get an HIV test.  There are also more options for staying healthy, regardless of what your results are.

Test - NHTD Map 2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone between the ages of 13 to 64 get tested at least once in their lifetime.  Some people should get tested more often.  Visit our testing webpage to learn more about HIV testing: https://bit.ly/2OE8EaC.

If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about HIV testing and how to protect your child.

Several community agencies are partnering with Walgreens to offer free HIV testing for NHTD.  On June 27, from 10 am until 7pm, pick from 13 different locations across the state to update your HIV status.  You don’t need an appointment, and you can get your results in about 20 minutes.  Visit www.greaterthan.org/walgreens to find a location near you.

If the Walgreens locations aren’t close enough, or if you want testing options on a different day, visit the Virginia resource locator, Resource Connections, at https://bit.ly/vdhconnections.  You can find HIV testing, and much more, using this online directory.

VDH also offers a program for at-home HIV test kits.  We will ship them right to your door.  If you’re interested in the program, visit the survey and find out if you’re eligible: https://bit.ly/vahometest.

For questions about HIV, testing, or results, contact our hotline at (800) 533-4148.

Pharmacy Testing Program Update

Effective immediately, Walgreens pharmacies will no longer provide HIV and hepatitis c testing services on behalf of VDH.  We apologize for any inconvenience that this causes to members of the public that have regularly taken advantage of this program prior to its pause during COVID-19.

While we work to establish new pharmacy testing options, please visit our pharmacy testing page for updates on the program and to find alternative methods for your testing needs.

Cabotegravir Update

The first long-acting injectable that prevents HIV has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

On Dec. 20, 2021, the FDA  approved Apretude® (cabotegravir), a new injectable PrEP medication for adults and adolescents - 15 years old or older - weighing at least 77 pounds and who are at risk of getting HIV through sexual activity.  PrEP stands for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis and cabotegravir is the latest medication to receive FDA approval for HIV prevention.  All of the other options have been oral tablets that must be taken daily; cabotegravir is an injection given every two months.  In approving the new medication, the FDA noted that an injectable could make it easier for patients to stay on the medication as prescribed, a key factor in the effectiveness of PrEP as an HIV prevention strategy.  For more information, visit the press release from the FDA.

Know Your Sexual Health

The number of sexual transmitted disease (STD) cases are at an all-time high.  In fact, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 2 people will get a STD before the age of 25.  Most people who get STDs don’t know that they have them.  That’s because STDs often have no obvious signs or symptoms.  Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are common STDs that can cause these serious health problems:

    • Increased risk of giving or getting HIV
    • Long-term pelvic and/or abdominal pain
    • Inability to get pregnant or pregnancy complications
    • Health problems for newborn babies if moms are not treated adequately

The only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested.  Learn more about testing, including where to go, here.   STDs are curable or manageable with the right treatment.  Not all doctors will ask you about your sexual activity or need for STD testing.  Don’t be afraid to ask your medical provider for STD testing!

Here are some ways you can prevent STDs:

    • Use condoms – correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing the transmission of many STDs. Learn the right way to use condoms and dental dams here.  Female condoms are available, too!
    • Get vaccinated – safe and effective vaccines exist to prevent hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV). These infections can be transmitted through sex.
    • Reduce your number of sex partners – reducing the number of people you have sex with can decrease your risk of STDs. It is still important for you and your partner to get tested and share your results with one another.
    • Practice mutual monogamy – mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has also agreed to be sexually active only with you. It is important to make sure that you are both tested and treated for STDs early on.
    • Abstinence – not having sex is the most reliable way to avoid STDs. This includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

Last Updated: June 23, 2022