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December 1 is World AIDS Day – Raise Awareness about HIV Testing

by | Nov 29, 2019 | Blog, Awareness Month | 0 comments

Every year, December 1 is observed as “World AIDS Day” around the globe. Sponsored by the United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), the one-day campaign is dedicated to spreading awareness about the AIDS pandemic by the spread of HIV infection, and to mourning those who have died due to this disease. The campaign is the perfect opportunity to support global efforts to prevent new HIV infections, increase HIV awareness and knowledge, and support those living with HIV-related infections. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is a retrovirus that targets and damages the immune system and interferes with the body’s ability to fight against the risk and impact of other infections and diseases. This is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). HIV can spread through the bodily fluids of an infected person that include blood, semen, breast milk and vaginal and rectal fluids. People with this type of infection do not experience any specific symptoms and the best possible way to diagnose HIV is to get tested. There is no specific cure for AIDS, but there are medications that can dramatically slow the progression of the disease. Antiretroviral therapy, (a combination of daily medications) can help stop the virus from reproducing and keep HIV infection from progressing to AIDS. For accurate clinical documentation of this condition, physicians can consider outsourced medical billing services.

Reports say that an estimated 37.9 million people were living with HIV (2018 statistics) (including 1.7 million children), with a global HIV prevalence of 0.8% among adults. Around 21% of these same people do not know that they have the virus. Symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary, depending on the phase and type of infection. In most cases, people infected by HIV develop a flu-like illness within a month or two once the virus enters the body. Other possible symptoms are fever, headache, rashes, muscle ache and joint pain, sore throat, painful mouth sores and swollen lymph glands. One of the preventive steps is to identify the HIV virus infection early through timely testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people in the age group of 13 – 64 should get tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine healthcare. Shame and discrimination deter people from undergoing an HIV test. People generally get tested only after becoming ill and symptomatic. This often leads to HIV treatment modalities being initiated slowly, thereby reducing the many benefits associated with treatment and prevention.

It is important for healthcare providers to correctly determine which particular test is suitable for patients. One of the most commonly used tests is – antibody/antigen tests – which check the blood for antibodies and antigens (part of the virus) and find infections at an early stage. This combination test can show results typically within 18–45 days after someone initially contracts HIV. If the test results are positive, other additional tests will be recommended by the physicians to check the progress of the infection and decide on further treatment modalities.

As mentioned above, there is no specific cure for HIV. Medications prescribed will help improve the severity of symptoms and slow down the spread of HIV virus to some extent. Physicians while treating HIV infected patients, must correctly document the symptoms, screening tests and other treatment procedures using the correct diagnosis and procedural codes. Medical billing and coding services offered by medical billing companies can help with timely claim submissions for accurate reimbursement.

ICD-10 codes used for HIV include –

B20 – Human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] disease

  • HIV disease
  • AIDS
  • AIDS – related complex [ARC]
  • AIDS – related conditions
  • HIV infection, symptomatic

Z21 – Asymptomatic human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] infection status

  • HIV infection
  • HIV positive
  • HIV
  • Known HIV
  • HIV virus
  • HIV status
  • HIV test positive
  • HIV infection, asymptomatic

Z20.6 – Contact with and (suspected) exposure to human immunodeficiency virus [HIV]

Z11.4 – Encounter for screening for human immunodeficiency virus [HIV]

The theme for 2019 World AIDS Day (which will be marking its 31st anniversary) is – “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Community by Community.” The theme signifies the need to bring the attention of organizations, communities and individuals towards the HIV epidemic, endeavor to increase HIV awareness and knowledge, speak out against HIV stigma, and call for an increased response to move toward “Ending the HIV Epidemic.”

The idea of observing “World AIDS Day” was first developed in the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention in London, England. During the initial year, the objective of the event was twofold. To emphasize the significance, scope and impact of the epidemic, and to highlight national responsibilities regarding the provision of universal, accessible and equitable treatment, care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS. Over the years, the scope of the campaign widened with United Nations agencies, governments and civil societies joining together to campaign around specific themes related to AIDS. The campaign has become one of the most widely recognized international health days and a key opportunity to raise awareness, commemorate those who have died, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services. People can participate in this campaign by wearing HIV awareness red ribbon on the day.

Participate in World AIDS campaign on December 1. Take sincere efforts to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic.

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