Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Get tested for HIV on June 27

The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) Division of Public Health (DPH) urges citizens across Georgia to get tested for HIV on June 27 - National HIV Testing Day (NHTD). NHTD is an annual event that promotes the importance of knowing your HIV status by getting tested. In 2007, Georgia ranked eighth in the U.S. for the reported rate of AIDS cases per 100,000 people. To help reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS, the Division of Public Health encourages Georgians to do their part by getting tested and knowing their status.

“We want people to know that HIV testing, education and counseling assists with preventing the transmission of this disease,” said Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford, acting director of the Division of Public Health. “We also want to capitalize on the significance of National HIV Testing Day and encourage those individuals who have had unprotected sex or shared needles to visit their local health department or private practitioner and get tested for HIV.”

The Division of Public Health’s HIV Unit coordinates a variety of free and voluntary HIV counseling and testing services across Georgia through collaborations with local health departments and community-based organizations. The program facilitated more than 130,000 HIV tests in 2007 and confirmed 1,691 HIV positive cases.

NHTD is an annual campaign produced by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA-US) that encourages at-risk individuals to receive voluntary HIV counseling and testing.

Despite recent advances in treatment and prevention, HIV and AIDS remain leading causes of illness and death in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an estimated one million Americans are living with HIV and a quarter of these individuals are unaware of their infection. HIV testing gives people an opportunity to know their status and take appropriate measures to protect their health and the health of others.

In observance of the day, the HIV Unit will also participate in NHTD events, alongside local health counterparts and community HIV/AIDS service providers, by providing health fairs and hosting testing-related events.

During National HIV Testing Day, organizers will also reach out to communities at increased risk of HIV infection, including African-American and Latino populations, both of which are disproportionately affected with HIV when compared to other demographic groups in the U.S.

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