Today marks the 11th annual National HIV Testing Day, an event designed to increase awareness about the AIDS epidemic. As of 2003, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are approximately 1.2 million persons in the U.S. living with HIV, of which close to 300,000 cases are estimated to be undiagnosed. In 2004, the number of new AIDS diagnoses was 42,000, and deaths from the virus totaled close to 16,000. The CDC has recommended that all Americans be tested for HIV/AIDS as part of their routine health examination.
Visit hivtest.org for information about a free testing site near you.
Check out some perspectives from around the nation as people raise awareness about testing:
“Somebody close to me was infected with AIDS, and I actually watched them die. That was painful to watch, and I think that once you see something like that, it definitely becomes real — it definitely becomes something that you want people to know about.'” — Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child, mtvnews.com
“Mention HIV or AIDS in many circles and it’s a conversation stopper. ‘A lot of people, especially here in the Bible Belt, don’t want to talk about it,’ said Stephany Washington, executive director of Homeward Bound. And that makes testing for the spreading malady especially tough. But groups in Columbus today are encouraging anyone who could possibly have contracted the disease to take advantage of a test to determine their HIV status — a test without fees or needles.” — Danee Atterbury (Central Pennsylvania), centredaily.com
“South Florida has among the nation’s highest rates of HIV/AIDS — home to about half the 125,000 state residents living with the disease. That’s a big reason county health officials are urging local residents who don’t know their HIV status to get tested today as part of National HIV Testing Day.” — Toni De Aztlan (South Florida), sun-sentinel.com
“HIV Testing Week started with 50 sites across Los Angeles County offering free HIV testing and about 1,000 people expected to get checked, according to the county Office of AIDS Programs and Policy. Last year, the program tested about 700 people, more than 20 of whom found out they had the virus.” — NBC News (Los Angeles), nbc4.tv
Talk: What efforts exist in your community to promote HIV/AIDS testing? COMMENT
On the Web: hivtest.org