OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — June 27th was National HIV Testing Day and advocates are urging the community to become aware of their status.
Tommy Young-Dennis, an outreach coordinator for the Nebraska AIDS Project, said sexual health is a part of someone's overall health and knowing your status can guide you forward.
"By knowing your status, whether you are HIV negative or a person slated with HIV, you know what steps you need to take in order to live your best life," Young-Dennis said.
He said Nebraska is considered a low-impact state but says the importance of testing is still high.
According to Nebraska DHHS, the last surveillance done in 2018 found 78 new cases of HIV, a majority of them in people ages 25-44.
Young-Dennis said many people believe it can't happen to them and use othering language when talking about the virus. He added it's important to normalize the conversation to keep everyone healthy.
"When I hear those conversations I don’t shy away from them and I know those topics can be very sensitive, but definitely try to meet people where they’re at and break the taboo surrounding those conversations because they can be uncomfortable conversations but they’re conversations that need to happen none the less," Young-Dennis said.
He said the best way to protect yourself is to use contraceptives and get tested. The Nebraska AIDS Project offers testing and started a new testing option in which they will mail a kit to you allowing someone to test from the comfort of their home.
They also offer appointments for HIV testing.