Dear Colleague: June 25, 2021

Dear Colleagues: Information from CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention

June 25, 2021

Dear Colleague,

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), a day to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and encourage people to know their HIV status. This year’s theme, My Test, My Way, empowers people to take charge of their health by getting tested for HIV in a way that works best for them—whether that’s with an HIV self-test, in person at a local testing site, or through their health care provider.

CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign has several new testing resources, including a page devoted to self-testing, an NHTD digital toolkit, and a self-testing social media toolkit. Share these resources on social media using the #HIVTestingDay and #StopHIVTogether hashtags. You can join us in promoting the Let’s Stop HIV Together Take Me Home portalexternal icon, a self-testing program that provides free HIV self-tests for people to use or give away to others. For local HIV testing services, including self-testing, we invite you to encourage everyone to visit CDC’s Get Tested website.

A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report about HIV testing among people with insurance shows some encouraging trends. HIV testing rates increased among people with private insurance and among those with Medicaid from 2014 to 2019. Furthermore, HIV testing rates were highest among Black/African American people and Hispanic/Latino people—populations disproportionately affected by HIV. While this progress is a sign that we are heading in the right direction, we still have more work to do.

An estimated 1.2 million people have HIV in the United States, and 13% (158,500) don’t know they have the virus. Nearly 40% of new infections are transmitted by people who don’t know they have HIV. CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. People with certain risk factors should be tested at least once a year, and sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (for example, every 3 to 6 months). Implementation of CDC’s recommendations for HIV testing in health care settings is needed to diagnose HIV sooner, improve the health of people with HIV, and prevent new infections.

Now is the time to scale-up our HIV testing efforts so that everyone can learn their status and make choices that will keep them healthy. People who get tested and receive a negative test result may benefit from proven prevention options, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). People who receive a positive test result can get access to care and treatment services so they can become virally suppressed, stay healthy, and protect their partners.

Thank you for the vital work you are doing on NHTD and every day. Making HIV testing simple, accessible, affordable, and routine is essential to achieving the goals of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative. Your ongoing efforts play a significant role in ensuring equal access to HIV testing for everyone.

/H. Irene Hall/

Irene Hall, PhD
Acting Director
Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

/Jonathan Mermin/

Jonathan H. Mermin, MD, MPH
Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention