Centers for Disease Control and PreventionMore than 200,000 people in the United States are living with a potentially deadly virus ““ HIV ““ and don’t know it. On this National HIV Testing Day, I urge all Americans to get tested for HIV and to encourage friends and family to do the same. No single step can do more to stop the spread of HIV and improve the health and prolong the lives of those who are infectedThe U.S. HIV epidemic is far from over. Every year, about 56,000 Americans become infected with HIV and nearly 18,000 with AIDS die. More than 1 million people in this country are living with the virusHIV testing is key to ending the U.S. HIV epidemic.- Testing is a powerful prevention tool. CDC estimates that people who don’t know they’re infected account for the majority of new sexually transmitted HIV infections in the United States . But studies show that once individuals learn they are infected, most take steps to protect others from infection.- Testing is a critical link to life-prolonging treatment. The earlier a person with HIV is diagnosed and linked to medical care, the better chance he or she has of living a long, full life. But today, nearly one-third of those who are infected are diagnosed with AIDS within a year of their initial HIV diagnosis, indicating they already have been infected for many years and antiretroviral (ARV) therapy will be less effective.- Treating those identified through testing may also help prevent the spread of HIV. ARV therapy can reduce the level of virus in the blood and genital secretions, which may decrease the chance that an infected person will transmit HIV to others. It is important that, once someone tests positive for HIV, they talk with their healthcare provider about ARV treatment.Everyone deserves life-saving information about their HIV status.CDC recommends that all Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as a routine part of medical care, regardless of their risk behavior. No one should walk out of a doctor’s office without knowing his or her HIV status.