June 27th is National HIV Testing Day!

From Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals

What is National HIV Testing Day?

The National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) started National HIV Testing Day in 1995. Every year, on June 27th, local organizations across the nation engage with communities to promote early diagnosis and HIV testing. The CDC estimates that more than one million Americans are living with HIV infection, and approximately one in five don’t know it.

What is the significance of National HIV Testing Day?

National HIV Testing Day is dedicated to encouraging people to find out their HIV status and helping those who are positive access treatment and reduce their risk of transmitting the virus to others.  National HIV Testing Day also prevents new HIV infections by increasing education and awareness about the virus, and offering access to voluntary counseling and testing services.  

Is HIV a problem in Louisiana?

As of December 31, 2011, there were 18,426 people living with HIV infection in Louisiana.

39% were living in the New Orleans metro area, 26% were living in the Baton Rouge metro area

30% were female, 70% were male

68% were black, 28% were white, and 4% were Hispanic

In 2011, there were 1,318 new HIV diagnoses in Louisiana

29% were female, 71% were male

73% were black, 20% were white, and 6% were Hispanic

Over 60% were among „men who have sex with men‟ (MSM)

In 2010, 33% of people who were diagnosed with HIV were diagnosed with AIDS within 6 months of their diagnosis. Hispanic/Latinos and persons over the age of 35 were more likely to have an AIDS diagnosis within 6 months. People who have an AIDS diagnosis within 6 months of their HIV diagnosis are considered to be “late testers” since they were diagnosed late in their disease progression.

Why is it important to get tested?

The CDC estimates that 20% of people who are infected with HIV are unaware of their status. Using this estimate, there are over 4,600 people living in Louisiana with HIV who do not know that they are infected.

The sooner people are diagnosed with HIV, the sooner they are able to begin treatments which can considerably improve their health and prolong their lives. Early testing and entry into medical care can reduce HIV transmission since people who are adhering to treatment are less infectious and less likely to transmit HIV. People who know their status are also more likely to take precautions to protect their partners, which also reduces the spread of HIV.

Those at advanced stages of infection are at risk of developing life-threatening conditions that do not infect people with healthy immune systems, but these very serious diseases are preventable by knowing your HIV status and following the appropriate treatment guidelines.

To find a testing site near you or for more information:
Online:

www.hiv411.org

http://www.hivtest.org/press_files/

http://www.greaterthan.org/

www.hiv.dhh.louisiana.gov

Call: Louisiana Statewide HIV/STD Infoline:
1-800-99-AIDS-9 (1-800-992-4379)