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World AIDS Day – a one day campaign dedicated to people with HIV epidemic around the world – is observed internationally on December 1 every year. Supported by UNAIDS (United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS), this campaign offers a unique platform for people across the world to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and remember those who have lost their lives to HIV-related diseases. It aims to generate awareness about HIV/AIDS and to demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic – about the importance of getting tested as well as to provide accessible and rapid HIV testing services. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a syndrome caused by the HIV virus (human immunodeficiency virus). HIV is a retrovirus that damages the cells in your immune system and weakens your ability to fight habitual infections. HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids of an infected person that include – blood, semen, breast milk and vaginal and rectal fluids. The virus doesn’t spread via air or water, or through casual contact. Most people with HIV do not experience any particular symptoms and the best way to identify whether you have HIV is to get tested. There is currently no cure for HIV. However, there are effective treatment modalities like antiretroviral therapy, (a combination of daily medications) that stop the virus from reproducing and keep HIV infection from progressing to AIDS. For accurate clinical documentation of this condition, physicians can consider medical billing outsourcing services.

UNAIDS (2017 statistics) is that about 36.9 million people (including 1.8 million children) worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS – reaching a global prevalence of 0.8% among adults. It is estimated that about 25% of these people do not know that they have a virus infection. Proper identification of the HIV virus infection through timely testing is one of the first steps towards prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people in the age group 13 – 64 should get tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine healthcare. Stigma and discrimination dissuade people from taking an HIV test. In most cases, people get tested only after becoming ill and symptomatic. This often leads to HIV treatment being initiated late, reducing its many benefits associated with treatment and prevention.

Healthcare providers need to correctly determine which specific test is best for patients.  Antibody/antigen tests – one of the most commonly used tests – check the blood for antibodies and antigens (part of the virus) and find infections early. 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 are conducted to explore how the infection has progressed and decide on the treatment options.

As there is no specific cure for HIV, medications are generally prescribed to improve the immediate symptoms associated with the condition. Anti-retroviral therapy/medications slow down the spread of HIV virus and reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to others. The diagnosis, screening tests and other procedures performed by infectious disease specialists or other physicians must be carefully documented using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding services provided by established medical billing companies can help physicians use the correct codes for their medical billing purposes.

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 concept of World AIDS Day first originated in the year 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention in London, England. At that time, the goals of the event were twofold – the former being to emphasize the significance, scope and impact of the epidemic and the latter 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 program widened with United Nations agencies, governments and civil societies joining together to campaign around specific themes related to AIDS.

The 2018 theme for World AIDS Day (which will be marking its 30th anniversary) is – “Know Your Status”. Recent reports suggest that about three in four people living with HIV know their status. The theme gives emphasis to HIV testing as an essential step to reaching HIV negative persons with effective prevention interventions, and connecting with those living with HIV but do not know their status and ensuring that they are linked to quality care and prevention services. World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people to show solidarity with millions of HIV victims worldwide. You can do this by wearing an HIV awareness Red ribbon on the day.

Join World AIDS Day celebration on December 1. Generate awareness about the importance of HIV testing, know your status and focus on advanced treatment and prevention services.