NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Every year on December 1, people recognize World AIDS Day.

According to a news release, it’s a day to help bring awareness to the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

This is a day and time to reflect on response efforts while also remembering those that have died of AIDS-related illnesses and showing support for those still living with HIV.

This year’s theme is “Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV.” The theme highlights guidance for routine HIV screening and testing and also encourages people to unite to eliminate barriers to HIV testing, prevention, and care.

“Everyone should get tested for HIV and know their status,” said Sarah Weninger, HIV prevention coordinator at North Dakota Health and Human Services (HHS). “No matter the outcome of the test, people should be connected with HIV prevention or treatment services.”   

Alterations have been made in the fields of HIV care, treatment, and prevention so that people with HIV can have longer and healthier lives.

People who have HIV, are on medication, and achieve and maintain viral compression, cannot spread it to others. This means that successful treatment further decreases new transmission.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication taken to prevent getting HIV. It’s highly effective for preventing HIV when it’s taken as it should.

HHS has collaborated with state and local partners on the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative across North Dakota while following the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. And one of those strategies includes making sure everyone has access to HIV testing.

To find a testing site near you, visit HHS’s website. If you’re unable to get to a clinic for testing, you can access at-home test options here.