Georgians Urged To Get Tested For HIV

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In observation of National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) on June 27, the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health, wants residents across the state to get screened for HIV. NHTD is an annual event that raises awareness about the importance of knowing one's HIV status and the need to get tested. With Georgia ranking seventh in the nation for total number of persons living with HIV infection and sixth for AIDS' cases in 2006, the Division of Public Health encourages all state residents to help reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS by getting tested and knowing their status.

"HIV testing, counseling and education are measures that help prevent the transmission of this disease," said Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford, acting director of the Division of Public Health. "We want to capitalize on the importance of this day and urge those individuals who have had unprotected sex or shared needles to visit their local health department or private practitioner and get tested for HIV."

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The Department of Human Resources coordinates a variety of free, voluntary HIV counseling and testing services across Georgia through collaborations with local health departments and community- based organizations. The agency facilitated more than 125,000 HIV tests in 2006 with 1,986 HIV positive cases.

National HIV Testing Day is an annual campaign produced by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA-US) that encourages at-risk individuals to receive voluntary HIV counseling and testing. Despite recent advances in treatment and prevention, HIV and AIDS remain leading causes of illness and death among individuals in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an estimated one million Americans are living with HIV and a quarter of these individuals are unaware of their infection. HIV testing provides people with an opportunity to know their status and take appropriate measures to protect their health and the health of others.

In observance of the day, the Department of Human Resources will also participate in NHTD events, alongside local health counterparts and community HIV/AIDS service providers, by providing health fairs and hosting testing-related events.

During National HIV Testing Day, organizers will also reach out to communities at increased risk of HIV infection, including African-American and Latino populations, both of which are disproportionately affected with HIV when compared to other demographic groups in the United States.

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