STATE—In observance of World AIDS Day on December 1, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services is joining organizations across the state to raise awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS and to encourage residents to get tested for HIV.
Health fairs, art shows, dramatic presentations, and AIDS memorial quilt displays are among the activities planned to mark the 22nd World AIDS Day observance. New Jersey events can be found on the DHSS World AIDS Day online events calendar.
The theme of this year’s worldwide observance is “Universal Access and Human Rights,” to stress the importance of access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care services.
“Since the epidemic began three decades ago, we have reduced the spread of HIV and made tremendous progress in helping people with HIV/AIDS live longer, healthier lives,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard. “While we acknowledge our accomplishments, World AIDS Day is a time to reflect on the fact that this preventable disease continues to spread and to disproportionately impact minority and multicultural populations.
“Working with our many partners, we must rededicate ourselves to the fight to reduce the impact of HIV, and ensure that New Jersey residents can access the HIV testing, care and treatment they need,” the Commissioner added.
In an effort to make HIV testing a routine part of medical care, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the DHSS has encouraged testing sites to use the rapid HIV test. All health care providers should routinely offer HIV testing to their patients from ages 13 to 64.
This rapid test is available at more than 170 locations throughout the state. It provides results in less than 30 minutes, allowing clients to learn their status, and if positive, to get care or be referred to care the same day. Conventional testing required clients to return to the testing site days or even weeks after the test to get their results.
Among New Jersey’s planned World AIDS Day events are:
• Atlantic City – World AIDS Day 2009 Life Celebration on December 1 at the All Wars Memorial Building (Soldiers Home), 1510 Adriatic Avenue. The event, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., features workshops, health screenings including HIV testing, and entertainment. Keynote speaker will be Larry Ganges, Assistant Commissioner of the DHSS Division of HIV/AIDS Services. The event is sponsored by the Atlantic City Division of Health, AtlantiCare, the South Jersey AIDS Alliance, the John Brooks Recovery Center and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
• Trenton – World AIDS Day at Trinity Cathedral, 801 W. State St. The December 1 event, which runs from 3 to 6:30 p.m., will include workshop discussions, an exhibition of the AIDS memorial quilt, and a service of remembrance. HIV testing also will be available. The event is sponsored by the City of Trenton, Delta Sigma Theta sorority, the Henry J. Austin Health Center, New Jersey Human Development Corp., New Jersey Women and AIDS Network, the Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton, and Trinity Cathedral.
• Newark—The North Jersey Clinical Research Initiative is holding its annual World AIDS Day event at Symphony Hall, 1030 Broad St. This celebration and social event, which also includes HIV testing, runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Gary Paul Wright, executive director of the African American Office of Gay Concerns, will be a featured speaker.
New Jersey ranks fifth among states with approximately 72,000 cumulative cases of HIV/AIDS, and has one of the highest percentages of women who have the disease. Injection drug use and sexual contact remain the major modes of exposure to HIV infection. The proportion of cases traced to injection drug use has declined, while the proportion linked to sexual contact is increasing.
By mid-2009, nearly 35,000 people were reported as living with HIV or AIDS in the state. African-Americans make up 14 percent of the state’s population, but 54 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS. Latinos account for 15 percent of the state’s population, but 22 percent of those living with HIV.
To search the Statewide World AIDS Day Events Calendar visit the Department’s web site at: http://web.doh.state.nj.us/apps2/aids/events.aspx
For more information on HIV/AIDS, visit the Division of HIV/AIDS Services web page at: http://nj.gov/health/aids/index.shtml. For information on HIV testing, call 1-866-HIV-CHEC or visit http://www.state.nj.us/health/aids/rapidtesting/index.shtml.
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