NJ Officials Mark National HIV Testing Day

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STATE — In recognition of the 19th annual National HIV Testing Day, Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd is encouraging New Jersey residents to get tested, know their HIV status and help stop the spread of HIV.

“Testing is the only way to know if you have HIV,” said O’Dowd. “Early detection is key to getting into treatment, managing HIV and having the best quality of life. There are highly effective treatments available which can dramatically improve longevity and quality of life for those living with HIV. I encourage everyone to get tested and learn their status.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all health care providers offer HIV testing to patients between the ages of 13 and 64 as part of routine medical care.

More than 140 rapid HIV test sites are available around the state—in all 21 counties. Approximately 100,000 HIV tests were performed at these sites last year. Testing sites include community-based organizations, hospitals, health departments, federally qualified health centers and other health facilities that make getting tested easy and convenient.

“While great strides have been made in recent years treating HIV/AIDS, we must not become complacent because more than 35,700 people in our state are currently living with HIV/AIDS,” added O’Dowd.

“HIV continues to have a disproportionate impact on African American and Latino communities,” said Dr. Arturo Brito, Deputy Commissioner of Public Health Services. “Some 54 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS are African American, representing 14% of the state’s population. National HIV Testing Day is an opportunity to remind minority communities about the importance of knowing your HIV status.”

Rapid HIV testing requires less than a single drop of blood from a fingertip. Test results are available in 20 to 40 minutes. For rapid HIV testing information, call 1-866-HIV-CHEC or visit the DHSS website at: http://www.state.nj.us/health/aids/rapidtesting/location.shtml.

Nationally, 1 in 5 people living with HIV are unaware they are infected. Many with HIV do not show symptoms.

  • HIV is transmitted in several ways:
  • Having unprotected sex with a person who has HIV
  • Sharing needles with someone who has HIV
  • Breastfeeding, pregnancy, or childbirth if the mother has HIV
  • Getting a blood transfusion that has HIV (very rare in the U.S.)

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