June 27 Is National HIV Testing Day

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National HIV Testing Day has become an annual event, held every year on June 27th, which is meant to raise awareness of the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and encourage at-risk individuals to get tested for HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 1 million Americans are living with HIV and one quarter of those people are unaware of their infection. Being tested for HIV will enable those people with HIV to take important steps to protect their own health and that of their partners. If a person’s test is negative, he/she will be counseled on what they need to do to remain negative.

Terence Tesoroni, Field Representative, Disease Control, overseeing the HIV Counseling and Testing Program, states, “New Jersey ranks 5th in the cumulative AIDS cases, 3rd in pediatric AIDS cases, and has the highest rates of women diagnosed with AIDS in the United States. By mid 2008, there were 35,309 people reported living with HIV or AIDS in New Jersey.”

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Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Health Department, said, “The Ocean County Health Department offers free, confidential and anonymous counseling and testing in both Toms River and Lakewood. Each Monday evening at the Northern Ocean Resource Center, 225 Fourth Street, Lakewood, HIV Counseling and Testing is available from 5:30pm until 7:30pm. Counseling and Testing is also available every Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 5:30pm – 8:00pm at the Ocean County Health Department, 175 Sunset Avenue, Toms River.” No appointments are necessary for the Tuesday or Wednesday evening clinics.

All Ocean County Health Department testing sites are currently licensed to use the HIV 1/ 2 STAT-PAK test, allowing clients to receive their results in as little as 15 minutes. Testing is performed on site and is free of charge. For those persons requiring Spanish language assistance, a bilingual counselor is available Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at the Ocean County Health Department.

Little said, “The Ocean County Health Department also offers daytime hours for those who are unable to attend during the evening but by appointment only.”

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