BATON ROUGE— Take the Test! Take Control! This is the key message of this year’s National HIV Testing Day, set for June 27. The day is dedicated to encouraging people to find out their HIV status and helping those who are positive access treatment and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others.
In Louisiana, the Department of Health – Office of Public Health’s HIV/AIDS Program and its partners from around the state will work toward promoting the benefits of getting tested early and decreasing the stigma associated with testing in communities at risk.
Test sites throughout the state will be offering extended testing hours on National HIV Testing Day. A list of activities in each region of the state is attached. Testing is at no-cost and open to everyone.
Louisiana ranks as fifth highest in the nation in AIDS case rates, with over 16,282 people living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2008. In 2007, Baton Rouge ranked third out of 98 metropolitan areas in AIDS case rates; New Orleans ranked second. Another 5,000 Louisiana residents are estimated to be living with HIV but are unaware of it.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than one million people in the U.S. are now living with HIV, and approximately 25 percent are unaware of their HIV infection.
“The decision to take the test is the first step in taking responsibility for your health and the health of others with whom you may be intimately involved,” said Beth Scalco, director of the Office of Public Health HIV/AIDS program. “The CDC recommends routine HIV screening of adults, adolescents and pregnant women.”
National HIV Testing Day is organized by the National Association of People with AIDS, in partnership with the CDC and other national and local entities across the country.
For more information on National HIV Testing Day events or locations for HIV screening, contact the Louisiana Statewide HIV/AIDS Infoline at 1-800-99AIDS9 (or 1-800-992-4379).
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.
Click here for a full schedule of statewide events.