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June 27, 2012

Dear Colleagues,

June 27 marks the 19th annual National HIV Testing Day, a day to promote HIV testing and early diagnosis of HIV across the United States. National HIV Testing Day is organized each year by the National Association of People with AIDS with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and AIDS.gov. The theme of this annual observance is “Take the Test, Take Control,” which sends a powerful message about learning one’s HIV status. Simply stated, testing saves lives.

Recently released data for one of the Healthy People (HP) 2020 HIV testing objectives show that the proportion of persons living with HIV who know their HIV status increased from 80.6% in 2006 to 81.9% in 2009. The increase in the percentage of persons with HIV who know they are infected reflects updated data from CDC’s National HIV Surveillance System. We are advancing toward the HP 2020 target of 90% of persons infected with HIV being aware of their status—a target that is consistent with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy objective. However, we need to accelerate our progress. With your help, we will get there.

Right now, in the United States, more than 1.1 million people are estimated to be living with HIV, and nearly 1 in 5 of those people do not know they are infected. With about 50,000 new infections occurring each year, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that all people have a fundamental knowledge of HIV: how to prevent transmission; where to get tested to learn their HIV status; and, if they test positive for HIV, to ensure that they are linked to medical care, treatment, and prevention services.

CDC supports testing as one of the most powerful HIV prevention tools we have. It is the pivotal first step in linking people to treatment, care, and prevention services. CDC recommends all adults and adolescents between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once as a routine part of health care and that those at increased risk—including gay and bisexual men, injection drug users, or persons with multiple sexual partners—be tested at least annually. Testing makes a difference.

Although more people are being tested for HIV than ever before, more than half of American adults still have not been tested. HIV testing is accurate, widely available, and often free or low-cost. With an early diagnosis and proper treatment, people living with HIV can enjoy long, healthy lives.

On this National HIV Testing Day and throughout the year, let us work together to increase the number of people who are aware of their HIV status. Working together, we can achieve the testing and linkage to care goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Additional information is available on the CDC website Information about HIV testing sites is available online at http://hivtest.cdc.gov, by calling 1-800-CDC-INFO, or texting a ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948).

Sincerely,

Kevin A. Fenton, M.D., Ph.D., F.F.P.H.
Director
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/nchhstp

Jonathan H. Mermin, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/hiv

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