Source: NJ Dept. of Health
Organizations around the state will be holding more than 20 community events featuring free, confidential HIV testing and education to recognize June 27 2019 as National HIV Testing Day.
“Many New Jerseyans are still at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS, with LGBT and folks of color particularly vulnerable,” Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal said. “It is important that we emphasize days like National HIV Testing Day to raise awareness of HIV, have more people learn their HIV status, and link them to life-saving medical treatment before they progress to advanced HIV disease.”
In New Jersey, more than 37,000 people are living with HIV, and about 10 percent are unaware they have the disease.
The New Jersey Taskforce to End the HIV Epidemic was formed to lead those efforts. The Taskforce, made up of people living with HIV, clinical and community providers, academic researchers, and NJDOH staff. In May, the Department hosted a series of listening sessions to hear suggestions from the public and local stakeholders in developing a plan to address the epidemic over the next six years,
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV, including about 162,500 people who are unaware of their status. Nearly 40% of new HIV infections are transmitted by people who do not know they have the virus.
The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once, and those at higher risk should be tested at least once a year. Healthcare professionals should offer an HIV test as part of routine care.
Nearly 75,000 free, confidential rapid HIV tests were administered in New Jersey last year at more than 140 locations. This testing program delivers test results in about 20 minutes, and people can be linked to a PrEP Counselor if HIV negative or HIV Clinic if HIV positive.
Strategies for preventing or reducing risk of HIV infection include:
– Adhering to HIV treatment regimens, if you are a person living with HIV/AIDS;
– Using condoms consistently and correctly;
– Avoiding sharing needles to inject fluids;
– Refraining from sharing needles for body piercing or tattoos.
If you are HIV negative but at high risk for HIV, there are 34 HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) counselors located across the state. Call the NJ AIDS/STD Hotline at 800-624-2377 to find the one nearest you.