National HIV Testing Day – June 27, 2011
For immediate release: June 23, 2011
Media Contact: National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention – News Media Line, 404.639.8895, NCHHSTPMediaTeam@cdc.gov
Statement by Dr. Kevin Fenton, Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
On this National HIV Testing Day, we have good news to report. In just three years, CDC’s expanded HIV testing efforts facilitated almost 3 million HIV tests in hard-hit areas across the nation, helping nearly 20,000 Americans living with HIV learn their status for the first time. A recent report showed that more Americans than ever before have taken an HIV test at least once in their lifetime, and more HIV-infected people than ever know their status.
While these signs are promising, our work to end the HIV epidemic is far from over. Today, about 240,000 people in the United States are living with this potentially deadly virus and don’t know that they are infected. That’s 1 in 5 of the nearly 1.2 million Americans living with HIV.
The majority of the estimated 56,000 new HIV infections that occur each year are transmitted by those who are unaware of their infection. Effective HIV treatments now allow people living with HIV to live long, productive lives, yet nearly 17,000 people with AIDS still die every year in the United States.
Despite these troubling statistics, the majority of Americans have still never taken an HIV test. Many people don’t recognize that they’re at risk for HIV infection, even if they engage in behaviors that put them at risk. Others may fear what a positive diagnosis could mean for them, despite the effective treatments now available. And many people don’t yet realize that testing today is quick, easy and confidential.
On this National HIV Testing Day, don’t let fear or misinformation stop you from getting tested. I strongly encourage all Americans to get tested for HIV, and to text and tweet to your friends and family to encourage them to do the same. HIV testing is the critical first step to protect yourself and your loved ones from HIV, and to help end the HIV epidemic in the United States.
Whether you test positive or negative, simply knowing your HIV status is empowering. Testing negative can give you peace of mind and encourage you to take steps to keep yourself HIV-free. And while certainly a difficult diagnosis to receive, learning that you have HIV can lead you to seek treatment that can save your life, and access to the knowledge you need to protect the lives of others.
CDC recommends that all adolescents and adults get tested for HIV at least once as a routine part of medical care, regardless of their risk. Those at higher risk for HIV, including those with multiple or HIV-infected partners or people who inject drugs, should get tested at least once a year.
Expanding access to HIV testing also brings us closer to reaching the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, announced last year by President Obama. The national strategy calls for increasing the proportion of people living with HIV who know their status to 90 percent by 2015.
While the recent good news indicates that we are making significant strides in expanding access to HIV testing for all Americans, there is more work to be done. Do your part today. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about HIV, get tested and get the knowledge you need to stay healthy.
For more information, please visit www.cdc.gov/hiv.