HIV/AIDS Advocates Mark National HIV Testing Day, Promote Use of OraQuick Rapid Tests
Leaders from the business, civic, faith, entertainment and media communities are joining together today to support National HIV Testing Day in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and encourage people to get tested, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports. National HIV Testing Day is an annual campaign coordinated by the National Association of People with AIDS, and it urges people to receive voluntary HIV counseling and testing. According to CDC, about one million people in the U.S. are HIV-positive, and about one-fourth are unaware of their status. There are about 40,000 new HIV cases in the U.S. annually (Burgos/Lespier, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 6/27).
HIV/AIDS advocates during National HIV Testing Day will join with 18 mayors across the country to promote the use of OraQuick rapid HIV tests, which can produce results in about 20 minutes, CQ HealthBeat reports (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 6/26). The OraQuick Advance Rapid HIV 1/2 Antibody Test, manufactured by OraSure Technologies, requires users to swab their gums and then place the swab in a holder. After 20 minutes, one line appears on the strip if the test result is negative and two appear if the result is positive. Positive results require a follow-up test with a medical professional for confirmation (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/17). The oral test aims to overcome the longer waiting period that keeps many people from learning their status, CQ HealthBeat reports. About 759,000 people in the U.S. in 2005 did not return to the clinic or physician's office for their test results, about one-third of the 2.3 million HIV tests performed, according to OraSure (CQ HealthBeat, 6/26). CDC in 2003 launched the "Advancing HIV Prevention" initiative, which aims to reduce HIV transmission by using OraQuick rapid HIV tests for diagnosis. CDC between September 2003 and December 2005 distributed OraQuick tests to 230 organizations in the U.S. and identified 4,650 HIV cases among 372,960 people, according to the June 23 issue of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR, 6/23).
Washington, D.C., HIV Test Initiative
Washington, D.C., on National HIV Testing Day will launch a testing campaign that aims to reach 400,000 men and women ages 14 to 84 in the district, the Washington Post reports. According to statistics presented at the Mayor's Task Force on HIV/AIDS, which convened for the first time on Monday, up to 25,000 people, or more than 4% of all residents, in the district might be HIV-positive (Levine, Washington Post, 6/27). Washington, D.C., health officials have ordered 80,000 rapid HIV tests for use in the citywide campaign titled, "Come Together D.C., Get Screened for HIV," CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 6/26). The campaign follows a report released in August 2005 by the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice that says the city's response to the epidemic has been inadequate and poorly coordinated. The report says that city officials were not systematically collecting and analyzing data about the epidemic. Since then officials have increased their attention to the district's HIV/AIDS epidemic, but progress on promised reforms has been mixed, according to a report card released in March. The campaign "dovetails" with CDC's proposed HIV testing guidelines, which will recommend that physicians offer voluntary HIV testing to all U.S. residents ages 13 to 64 as part of routine medical exams. Organizers plan to distribute rapid HIV tests at no cost to hospital emergency departments, private physician offices, community health programs, detoxification centers and substance use and sexually transmitted infection treatment clinics (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/26). "The campaign is the culmination of months of planning, and we believe it can serve as a national model for large-scale HIV testing campaigns in other major metropolitan areas across the country," Douglas Michels, CEO of OraSure, said. OraSure said it will donate 15,000 OraQuick tests to the city's HIV testing campaign. With the district campaign's launch, up to 2,000 residents by December could learn that they are HIV-positive, Marsha Martin, director of the district's HIV/AIDS Administration, said (Washington Post, 6/27).
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Monday included an interview with Martin about the city's HIV testing campaign (Norris, "All Things Considered," NPR, 6/26). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
A fact sheet on HIV testing and public opinion data are available online from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Locations of HIV testing sites across the nation are available from National HIV Testing Resources at hivtest.org (MMWR, 6/23).