National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
For immediate release: November 30, 2007
Contact: HHS Press Office, (202) 690-6343, Rob Graham, KFF, (650) 854-9400
HHS and Kaiser Family Foundation Team Up to Promote Text Messaging in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS
In the United States, an estimated 1 million people are living with HIV; of these, approximately 25 percent are unaware of their HIV infection and at increased risk for infecting others. The earlier people know they have HIV, the sooner they can benefit from life-extending treatment, and reduce the risk of infecting their partners.
Despite the thousands of HIV testing locations around the United States, many of which offer free and anonymous HIV testing, many people do not know where they can find an HIV test site.
In observance of this World AIDS Day, December 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS Policy is working with the Kaiser Family Foundation to promote text messaging to help people identify nearby HIV testing locations.
Mobile phone users can send a text message with their zip code to “KNOWIT” (566948). Within seconds, they will receive a text message containing information on HIV testing sites near them. This mobile phone service connects users with CDC’s testing database found at www.HIVtest.org.
As of December 2006, over 18.5 billion text messages were being sent every month – and that number has grown by 250% each year for the last two years.
“The growing use of text messaging provides an important opportunity to link people with simple and portable health information,” according to Dr. Kevin Fenton, Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC. This World AIDS Day, Dr. Fenton encourages “cell phone users to text their zip codes to KNOWIT to find an HIV testing center near them.”
“For years, popular media has proven to be an effective way to engage the public on important health issues, including HIV/AIDS,” said Tina Hoff, Vice President and Director of Entertainment Media Partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Given the tremendous growth of text messaging among mobile phone users in the United States, we expect our new KNOWIT service to more easily connect Americans with local HIV testing center information using a media platform that’s both convenient and confidential.”