National Association of People With AIDS Sponsors 8th Annual National HIV Testing Day Today
Today's 8th annual National HIV Testing Day, first declared in 1995 by the National Association of People With AIDS, is designed to increase awareness of the disease and encourage Americans to be tested for the virus. Of the 850,000 to 950,000 people who are HIV-positive in the United States, nearly 300,000 of them do not know they have the virus, according to CDC estimates. The CDC also estimates that at least half of the approximately 40,000 Americans who will become infected with HIV this year are under the age of 25. The theme of this year's campaign is "Take the Test, Take Control" (NAPWA HIV Testing Day Web site, 6/27). State and local health departments and AIDS organizations around the country are also launching HIV testing campaigns and many are offering free HIV tests today (Mozes, Reuters Health, 6/24).
Former Surgeon General David Satcher writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece in observance of today's National HIV Testing Day that it is "[o]f paramount importance in this struggle [to] convinc[e] those who feel they may be at risk for HIV/AIDS to be tested if they have not been." Satcher warns that the nation is "beginning to see troubling regressions" in certain populations, including gay and bisexual men and African Americans and Latinos, which is a "clarion call that we must redouble our efforts -- and resources" to curb the spread of the disease among high-risk populations. He continues, "For some, HIV and AIDS can still be difficult to talk about. But talk about it we must," adding that Americans cannot "relax or relent in our outreach and prevention efforts," particularly for minorities and young people. Satcher concludes, "Only through a global commitment to individual responsibility can we hope to achieve the ultimate victory: slowing and eventually stopping the spread of this devastating disease" (Satcher, Los Angeles Times, 6/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.