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PR Newswire
National HIV Testing Day

June 27, 2001
WASHINGTON, June 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) sponsors the seventh annual National HIV Testing Day. Federal and corporate partners join NAPWA in supporting more than 10,000 communities across the country as they organize local activities to encourage those at risk to get tested and to educate the general public about HIV and AIDS.

"National HIV Testing Day is an opportunity to talk about HIV testing in all of our communities, to take away the fear and mystery about testing," said Terje Anderson, Executive Director of NAPWA. "Barriers to testing, such as being unaware of risk, fear of the test results, lack of access to care and treatment, and the stigma of being HIV positive stop people from getting tested. We need to talk about these issues so that the nearly 300,000 individuals in this country who are HIV positive and don't know it can take the test, get the results, and get into treatment if they need to."

Over the last decade, the incidence of HIV has increased most dramatically among African-Americans and Hispanics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that while African-Americans and Hispanics combined make up slightly more than 25% of the United States population, these groups account for more than 70% of new HIV infections.

Men who have sex with men were also reported among the largest proportion of new infections with a particularly high rate of infection among youth, African-Americans and Hispanics. This group is followed by men and women infected through heterosexual sex and injection drug use.

"No one can know what changes the next decade will bring to the HIV/AIDS epidemics," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson. "We must encourage individuals to seek testing for HIV infection and at the same time, we must ensure access to counseling, treatment and support services for all populations."

"People of color are disproportionately at risk for HIV," said Helene D. Gayle, M.D., M.P.H, Director of CDC's National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention. "Our challenge is to work effectively with communities of color to increase knowledge of HIV status and ultimately to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in new HIV infections."

Launched in 1995 by NAPWA, the annual campaign, themed "Take the Test, Take Control," is designed to increase the number of people at risk for HIV who get tested, learn their sero-status and take charge of their health.

Events commemorating National HIV Testing Day will be held in communities across the country. National campaign sponsors joining NAPWA include CDC, the Health Resources Service Administration (HRSA), Cable Positive, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, among others.

NAPWA is one of the nation's largest and most influential AIDS advocacy groups. The organization impacts public health policies and provides sustained prevention education and support for those living with HIV and AIDS.

For additional information on National HIV Testing Day, please call Beth Strode at 601-992-9600 or log on to http://www.nhtd.org . For more information on HIV/AIDS please call CDC at 404-639-8895 or log on to http://www.hivtest.org .

SOURCE National Association of People with AIDS Web Site: http://www.nhtd.org http://www.hivtest.org



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