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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 Commissioner 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.

Local health departments, hospitals and community-based organizations throughout New Jersey will be hosting events featuring free HIV testing as part of National HIV Testing Day. A list of events is available on the Department’s website at http://web.doh.state.nj.us/apps2/aids/events.aspx.

Connie Calisti-Meyers, Assistant Commissioner, Division of HIV, STD and TB Services will attend an HIV testing event and health fair tomorrow at Trinity Cathedral in Trenton. The event is sponsored by the New Jersey Human Development Corp. and will be held from 11 am to 2 pm.

“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 Commissioner O’Dowd.

In March, the Christie Administration announced $8.1 million in grants to 17 hospitals, community organizations and public health agencies providing medical and support services to those living with HIV/AIDS. Overall, more than $11.5 million in state and federal funding was awarded to health care agencies and community-based organizations across New Jersey to support HIV testing in FY 2012.

“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.)
For more information on HIV/AIDS in New Jersey please visit: http://www.state.nj.us/health/aids/index.shtml
For more on National HIV Testing Day, please visit:
http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HIVtesting/