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The Impact of AIDS tests Has Been Critical in the Decline in the Spread of AIDS

During the 1980s, AIDS wasn’t just another disease. The average person was confused or even panicked about the possibility of contracting AIDS. There was a news story or magazine cover almost every week about dying young men and their heartbroken partners or babies born with AIDS.

The AIDS Epidemic

AIDS was always referred to as the “AIDS epidemic.” While most people weren’t clear on the specific facts, they believed AIDS meant an early death.

  • People were worried about catching AIDS from blood in hospitals and if it was safe to donate blood.
  • Drug addicts caught AIDS from shared needles.
  • Teens and young adults were warned countless times about the dangers of unprotected sex.
  • Some worried AIDS could be caught simply by touching an infected person.
  • There was a backlash against the gay community.
  • Rumors were whispered about the CIA creating the AIDS virus from African monkeys for one implausible reason or another.

AIDS Disappeared from the Headlines

Over time, the number of news stories about AIDS declined. AIDS continues to be a serious threat, but improved medical treatment has greatly improved the prognosis for anyone newly infected. AIDS is often considered just another sexually transmitted disease, although a very one. The public perception changed.

The Current Facts about AIDS

  • The rate of HIV infections has dropped by one-third in the past 10 years.
  • In the U.S., there are 1.2 million AIDS sufferers – 168,000 don’t know that they are infected.
  • The only group in which the rate of new HIV infections has increased is among gay or bisexual men. All other groups (heterosexuals, drug users, all age groups and races) have declining HIV infection rates.

AIDS Testing, Education and Medical Practices

The impact of Aids tests is undeniable. It’s become a social norm in many groups to ask a new sex partner if they’re “clean.”

  • 37% of adults had been tested for HIV in 2005.
  • Currently 50% of adults have been tested.
  • AIDS tests are easy to get: inexpensive at-home tests, anonymous online STD tests and free testing at clinics.
  • Health education has taught people how to protect themselves from AIDS and other STDs.
  • Improved medical practices inhibit the spread of AIDS.

The Prognosis

Better treatments slow down the progression of AIDS, but there is no vaccine available yet. When caught early, many AIDS patients can expect to live for many years. HIV testing and self-protection are still critically important in this battle.