It is imperative for those who are at risk of getting HIV to be tested

Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson today reminded Pennsylvanians that June 27 is National HIV Testing Day and urged those who are at risk for HIV to get tested at any of the state’s free and confidential testing and counseling sites.

 “It is imperative for those who are at risk of getting HIV to be tested,” said Dr. Johnson. “With early detection of HIV, people can receive effective treatment, support and counseling if needed.”

The Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention estimates that between 850,000 and 900,000 Americans are infected with HIV. Of this number, an estimated 180,000 to 280,000 Americans do not know they are infected and may continue to engage in behavior that could jeopardize their health and the health of others.

People who have unprotected sex or share needles, are considered to be at high risk. New infections continue to be disproportionate in the African American and Latino communities. Nationally, people under the age of 25 account for one out of every four new infections. In Pennsylvania, an increase in risky sexual activity among young gay and bisexual men in some communities has resulted in an increase in both HIV and syphilis.

In Pennsylvania:

  • Almost 30,000 adults have been diagnosed with AIDS since 1980. Forty eight percent of them have died.
  • Men having sex with men account for 40 percent of all known AIDS cases.
  • The 2002 AIDS incidence rate for African Americans is 18 times higher than the rate for Caucasians (68.7 compared to 3.8). The Hispanic rate (43.9) was almost 12 times higher.
  • The 2002 age-adjusted HIV death rate for African American men was nearly 13 times that of Caucasian men in Pennsylvania (38.1 vs. 2.9).
  • HIV was one of the top 10 leading causes of death for African Americans and Hispanics.
  • Thirty-four percent of all known AIDS cases result from using injected drugs.

Agencies throughout Pennsylvania offer free, voluntary, confidential and anonymous HIV counseling and testing.  People needing to be counseled about and tested for HIV should call the Department of Health’s AIDS Factline at (800-662-6080) for the nearest test site. Information is also available at www.health.state.pa.us.

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