Virginia Health Department HIV Testing Campaign Targets Hispanics
The Virginia Department of Health has launched a $50,000 campaign that encourages Hispanics living in the northern region of the state to receive HIV tests, the Washington Post reports. The statewide campaign, which uses Spanish-language radio, coincides with National HIV Testing Day on Wednesday, according to the Post. The campaign also focuses on urban areas and minority populations. "Historically, these populations have more difficult access to care and are underserved," Kathryn Hafford, acting director of the health department's Division of Disease Prevention, said, adding that the populations are "disproportionately affected by HIV in comparison to the white population."
Hispanics in Northern Virginia make up 11% of the population reported to be HIV-positive. According to Hafford, that figure is a "higher percentage than in any other part of the state." She added, "If you watch the trend over the years, the numbers have been consistently going up" in terms of HIV cases recorded among Hispanics. "The numbers are small, just a few cases each year, but we are seeing it going up," Hafford said. In addition, when compared with HIV trends among whites and blacks, the number of HIV cases among Hispanics is "certainly not spiking and going down," she added.
The campaign also will promote HIV testing among populations not considered at high risk of contracting the virus, according to the Post. "There are many people out there who are HIV-infected and don't know it," Lucy Caldwell, a health department spokesperson, said, adding, "The prediction is one in four people with HIV doesn't know it. That translates to 7,000 Virginians." Multiple state and local organizations will offer access to no-cost HIV tests in Northern Virginia on Wednesday (Goodman, Washington Post, 6/24).
Kaisernetwork.org on June 26 will host a live webcast of "Ask the Experts" about HIV testing. The panel of experts will address the revised CDC HIV testing recommendations, public education campaigns for testing and data on state testing policies. Submit questions by e-mail to the panel before or during the discussion to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Kaiser Family Foundation also recently updated an HIV testing fact sheet.