Kentucky Promotes National HIV Testing Day
In honor of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is promoting routine HIV testing and awareness. The campaign will run during June in Kentucky to encourage as many people as possible to get tested and know their HIV status.
“Being aware of your risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and knowing your status is extremely important in our effort to protect the health of our fellow Kentuckians,” said Sigga Jagne, manager of the DPH HIV/AIDS branch. “People who are unaware they are infected with HIV are responsible for transmitting the virus to the majority of the estimated 56,300 Americans who are newly infected each year. We have to start reversing this trend.”
The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate is that one out of five people living with HIV in the U.S. is unaware of his or her HIV status. The CDC estimates that someone is newly infected with the HIV virus every 9.5 minutes in the U.S.
“Stigma related to HIV/AIDS remains common and is a major reason many people do not seek or receive testing,” said Jagne. “We hope to change this by encouraging Kentuckians to take advantage of the many free testing opportunities held around the state this month.”
CDC recommends routine HIV screening for all people age 13 to 64. People who are at a higher risk for infection should be tested at least annually. People at high risk include those with multiple sex partners or whose sex partners have multiple sex partners, injection drug-users and their sex partners, people who exchange sex for money or drugs, men who have sex with men, and sex partners of someone with HIV.
“Following the CDC initiative to incorporate HIV testing into routine clinical care, we are encouraging all hospitals, clinics and private physicians to join this year’s campaign,” Jagne said.
Health care staff is advised to discuss sexual health and substance use with patients to determine if an HIV test is appropriate and, if possible, provide the service. When testing is not feasible in private health care settings, providers are encouraged to refer patients to local health departments or other public health partners where testing can be provided free or at minimal cost.