National HIV Testing Day Asks You to Know Your HIV Status
FREE and Confidential Testing Available at Local Health Departments
Nashville, June 20, 2006
As part of the 11th annual National HIV Testing Day on Tuesday, June 27, the Tennessee Department of Health is encouraging people who are at high risk of contracting HIV or AIDS to get a free and confidential HIV test at their local health department.
“The AIDS epidemic has crossed all cultural, gender and racial barriers, and the faces of those affected are changing to include more minorities and women than ever before,” said Health Commissioner Kenneth S. Robinson, MD. “Awareness and testing are crucial in stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS. The future of this debilitating disease is determined by what we do now to spread the message of prevention.”
People who have HIV/AIDS now live in every county in Tennessee, with the numbers increasing each year. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, Surveillance and Data Management Section, 12,069 persons were estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in Tennessee at the end of 2004, with an estimated 1,108 new cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 180,000 to 280,000 people nationwide are HIV-positive but are unaware of their status.
HIV counseling and testing enables people with HIV to take steps to protect their own health and that of their partners, and helps people who test negative get the information they need to stay uninfected. New developments in HIV testing allow those who are positive to learn faster and live longer with appropriate medical treatment.
“Prevention is the key to stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS. It is important that all sexually active people know their HIV status and that of their partner,” said Jeanece Seals, director of HIV/AIDS/STD Section, Department of Health. “HIV testing should become a routine part of medical care for all sexually active persons and others at risk.”
The goal of the 11th annual National HIV Testing Day Campaign is to educate the public about HIV counseling and testing, and to encourage people to learn their HIV status by getting tested anonymously or confidentially. People at highest risk for HIV include African-Americans, Latinos, women and youth.
Free HIV testing is available at your local health department. A list of local health departments is also available on the Department of Health’s Web site at http://www2.state.tn.us/health/LocalDepts/ index.html. To learn more about National HIV Testing Day, visit http://www.hivtest.org/.