STATE — This World AIDS Day, events are being held statewide to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, remember those impacted by the epidemic and encourage everyone to get tested for HIV, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh said today.
“Universal Access and Human Rights” is the theme of the global observance, highlighting the need for universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care services.
“One of every five people living with HIV in the U.S. does not know that they are infected. They can’t take advantage of medical treatment that’s helping people live longer, healthier lives, and they risk spreading the virus to others,” said Alaigh. “Getting an HIV test is a vital part of preventive health care.”
Rapid HIV testing is available at 150 sites statewide. Testing requires either a drop of blood from a finger stick or a sample taken from a swab of your gums, and results are available in less than 30 minutes. The Department of Health and Senior Services’ publicly funded rapid testing sites counsel and test about 100,000 people a year. Anyone who is HIV-positive can be referred the same day for care at one of the state’s 13 early intervention sites. Supportive services are also available at these sites, such as help paying for AIDS medications or maintaining health insurance. If you test negative, you can still benefit from counseling on ways to avoid infection.
HIV testing should be a routine part of medical care. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the DHSS continue to encourage all health care providers to offer testing to patients from ages 13 to 64. If testing is not offered at your next check-up, ask your health care provider.
To mark the 23rd annual World AIDS Day, groups around the state are holding a variety of activities, including health fairs, HIV testing services, AIDS Memorial Quilt displays, and memorial services.
A searchable database of World AIDS Day events can be found on the DHSS web site at: http://web.dohstate.nj.us/apps2/aids/events.aspx.
Below is a selection of events:
- The Fifth Annual World AIDS Day Extravaganza, Newark – Sponsored by the NJ Stop AIDS Coalition, the event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Newark Symphony Hall, Terrace Ballroom, 1020 Broad St., Newark. It features an HIV Education Presentation, Memorial Service, HIV Testing Services, food and entertainment. Singer Melba Moore is featured along with local entertainers.
- Hour of Silence, Newark – The World AIDS Day Hour of Silence to End the Silence will be held from noon to 1 p.m. at Newark City Hall, Broad Street between Green and Franklin Avenue, Newark. The event is sponsored by the African American Office of Gay Concerns.
- Atlantic City World AIDS Day – The South Jersey AIDS Alliance and the Atlantic City Division of Health are sponsoring a health fair, including HIV testing services, educational presentations, health screenings, flu shots and a display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the All Wars Memorial Building, 1510 Adriatic Ave., Atlantic City.
- Service of Remembrance, Trenton – A 6 p.m. remembrance service will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church, 801 W. State St., Trenton. There will be an HIV education presentation, and HIV testing services will be available. The AIDS Memorial quilt will also be on display. In addition to the church, sponsors include the Henry J. Austin Health Center, the New Jersey Human Development Corp., and Mercer Early Intervention.
Since the epidemic began, nearly 75,000 cases of HIV/AIDS have been diagnosed in New Jersey, and about 35,000 people are living with HIV. Minorities have been disproportionately impacted by the epidemic, with one in 65 African Americans and one in 181 Latinos living with HIV, compared with one in 750 whites. Minorities make up about three-quarters of all HIV/AIDS cases diagnosed in New Jersey. Injection drug use and sexual contact remain the main routes for transmitting HIV.
New Jersey is committed to fighting AIDS, devoting more than $140 million this year to HIV prevention, education and treatment services, as well as working with communities on effective approaches to combating this epidemic.
For more information on HIV/AIDS, visit the Department’s web site at www.nj.gov/health/aids, of call the DHSS AIDS hotline at 1-866-HIV-CHECK
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