June 27 Is National HIV Testing Day

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Today (June 27) is National HIV Testing Day, started by the National Association of People with AIDS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2 decades ago to raise awareness about HIV and encourage people to learn their status.

"Every time someone gets tested for HIV, we are one step closer to ending the AIDS epidemic," said Jonathan Mermin, new director of the CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. "Learning your HIV status opens the door to powerful HIV prevention and treatment options that could save your life or the life of someone you love."

According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 of the estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S. do not know they are infected.

The CDC recommends that all adults and adolescents get tested for HIV at least once as a routine part of medical care, guidance that was confirmed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) this past April. People at higher risk -- including gay and bisexual men and injection drug users -- should be tested more frequently.

Learning one's status is a key step in accessing care and timely treatment, which has individual health benefits and can prevent HIV transmission to others.

"HIV treatment is much more effective when patients are diagnosed early," said Michael Horberg, chair of the HIV Medicine Association. "Our most effective strategy against the spread of HIV is to connect people to appropriate care early so they can benefit from treatment and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others. By not knowing your status, you could be missing out on an opportunity to protect yourself and others."

"It is important to stress the long-term benefits of HIV testing, care, and treatment," concurred Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in her annual NHTD statement. "HIV testing gives us an opportunity to connect people living with HIV to treatment and give them the support they need to remain in care and to take their medications appropriately."

The Affordable Care Act -- better known as Obamacare -- has already expanded access to free HIV screening for many people, Sebelius noted.

On June 27, Greater than AIDS, local and state health departments, and AIDS service organizations and funders will partner with Walgreens to offer free HIV testing at 175 stores in 54 cities. A list of participating store is available online. Home HIV test kits are also now available over-the-counter.

In San Francisco, the University of California at San Francisco’s Allied Health Project will debut a new mobile testing center. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation's mobile testing van, which can be followed on Twitter via #testmesf.

"If more Americans were tested as recommended, we could prevent thousands of needless HIV infections and deaths," Mermin concluded. "National HIV Testing Day serves as a reminder to take a stand against one of the key issues driving this epidemic -- not knowing your HIV status."

HIV Testing Resources

6/27/13

Sources

CDC. CDC Recognizes National HIV Testing Day. Media advisory. June 25, 2013.

DHHS. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Statement for National HIV Testing Day 2013. Press release. June 26, 2013.

HIV Medicine Association. HIV Testing Day, June 27: Know Your Status, Get Tested. Press release. June 24, 2013.

Walgreens. Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS Team with Health Departments and Local AIDS Service Organizations to Provide Free HIV Testing in Support of National HIV Testing Day. Press release. June 13, 2013.