Iowans Encouraged to Save Their Own Lives on National HIV Testing Day

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Iowa health officials say saving your life is in your own hands on National HIV Testing Day.

The annual day of action encourages all Americans to get tested and get informed about the potentially lethal virus.  The Iowa Department of Public Health started its annual "HIV, AIDS, STD and Hepatitis Conference" today.  The event brought together advocacy groups, clinics and hospitals and those infected with the virus together in one place to exchange information.

Iowa has seen cases of HIV infection grow in recent years.  But health officials say that is not necessarily a bad thing.  More Iowans are getting tested and finding out about their infection and hopefully learning how to manage it and not spread it.

"When someone has HIV its important that they get diagnosed quickly and get linked to medical care with the purpose of getting 'virally suppressed," says Nicole Kolm-Valdivia with the Iowa Department of Public Health, "If someone is virally suppressed, meaning the level of HIV in their blood is really low, they cannot transmit the virus sexually and have better health outcomes so that is really our ultimate goal."

There were 125 new HIV diagnoses in Iowa in 2017.  There were 137 new diagnoses in 2016.