July Is Latino HIV Testing Month

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July is Latino HIV Testing Month, in recognition of the serious impact that HIV/AIDS has had on all New York's Latino communities. During this month, Governor David A. Paterson and New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. urge all Latinos to get tested for HIV to protect themselves and others from HIV infection.

In 2007, Latinos in New York State represented 16 percent of the population, but accounted for 36,545 or 30 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS in the state. Of the 1,311 Latinos newly reported with HIV infection, 449 or 34 percent developed AIDS within the first year of their HIV diagnosis.

"The State Health Department is joining the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to urge Latinos to get tested for HIV and know their HIV status," Commissioner Daines said. "By waiting, you may miss critical opportunities to receive important health and social support services. When diagnosed early, HIV can be a manageable condition as long as treatment and counseling are sought immediately."

Latino HIV Testing Month is a New York State initiative that was launched in 2005 by the Hispanic Federation, Latino Commission on AIDS and the State Health Department's AIDS Institute. It is a campaign that seeks to unite Latino leaders and diverse community-based organizations in New York to fight HIV through increased HIV testing and sponsorship of prevention activities that target Latino families in their communities. These activities include HIV testing events throughout Latino communities in New York City's five boroughs, Long Island, Westchester, Amsterdam, Buffalo, Syracuse and other areas of the state.

"As part of Latino HIV Testing Month, we urge all Latinos to get tested at one of the many free, anonymous testing sites throughout the state," said Humberto Cruz, Director of the State Health Department's AIDS Institute. "We also encourage all agencies that serve Latinos to partner with other agencies to hold HIV testing events in their communities."

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While the CDC and DOH recommend that everyone between the ages 13-64 should know their HIV status, having an HIV test is particularly important for those who have:

* Injected drugs or steroids or shared equipment (e.g. needles, syringes, works) with others;

* Exchanged sex for drugs or money;

* Been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis, tuberculosis (TB), or a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea, Chlamydia, or syphilis;

* Had unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with multiple partners, anonymous partners or men who have sex with men; and/or

* Had unprotected sex with anyone who has taken any of the risks above.

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