June 27, 2011
NMAC Marks 17th Annual National HIV Testing Day Urges All Americans to Know Their Status, Educate Themselves
Washington, DC — Today, June 27, marks the 17th annual National HIV Testing Day (NHTD). The theme of this year’s testing day is “take the test, take control.” Founded in 1995 in response to the epidemic’s alarming growth, especially among marginalized and minority communities, NHTD is an annual observance promoting not just testing, but awareness about HIV/AIDS and how to prevent infection.
Now in the epidemic’s 30th year, HIV continues to infect over 56,000 people in the U.S. annually. This translates to one newly infected American every nine and a half minutes. Perhaps even more alarming, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one out of every five Americans living with HIV, or approximately 200,000 individuals, are unaware of their HIV status.
“NHTD is an important opportunity to encourage the public to get tested,” said National Minority AIDS Council Deputy Executive Director Daniel C. Montoya. “An alarming number of Americans are unaware of their status, which not only puts their own health at risk, but also increases the likelihood that they might infect others. Research shows unequivocally that early diagnosis and treatment dramatically improves health outcomes while also reducing transmission risk by as much as 96 percent.”
Since the onset of the epidemic, communities of color and gay men have been disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. At the same time, many in these communities remain unaware of their status or are tested late in their disease. The trends are even more alarming among young people. A recent CDC analysis of 21 urban areas found that among young gay men, 63 percent were unaware of their status (three times the national average). Among young black gay men, that number jumped to 71 percent.
“While some populations are at higher risk than others, anyone can be infected with HIV,” continued Montoya. “We must do better at ensuring that all Americans know their status. At the same time, we must work to ensure that every person who tests positive has access to quality treatment. NMAC is proud to stand with the entire HIV community to mark NHTD and urges all Americans to take control and get tested.”
Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622 ext. 333