Dec. 1 was World AIDS Day. As of 2010, 1,543 people in West Virginia were living with HIV/AIDS. Across the U.S. there are 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS, and every 10 minutes, someone is diagnosed with HIV.
Under the Affordable Care Act, millions more people will be eligible for health insurance and HIV care. Thanks to this law, insurance companies are required to fully cover annual HIV counseling and screening for all sexually active women, as well as HIV screening for adolescents and adults aged 13-64 who are at higher risk for contracting HIV. And earlier this month, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended that all Americans aged 15-65 receive routine HIV testing, not just those most at risk.
Reproductive health care providers, like Planned Parenthood, will play a large role in translating these new requirements into expanded access to health care for people across the country. In an effort to create the healthiest generation ever, Planned Parenthood is working to reduce the high rates of sexually transmitted infections through education and screenings.
Last year, the Planned Parenthood health center in Vienna provided quality, non-judgmental preventive health care, including HIV/STD screenings, to more than 1,400 women, men and young people regardless of their ability to pay.
These services are critical, but much more is needed. On World AIDS Day and every day, you can help. Talk to your friends and family about this problem and ensure your loved ones get the information and care they need and deserve. To make an appointment for HIV testing, visit www.pphs.org.
Together, we can help change the course of this epidemic.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Miskimmin is West Virginia Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Health Systems.