Communities Nationwide Recognize National HIV Testing Day; Blacks, Hispanics Encouraged To Participate
Communities across the nation on Friday will promote and offer no-cost HIV screenings to mark National HIV Testing Day, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports (Torbati, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 6/26).
The 14th annual event was launched in 1995 by the National Association of People with AIDS in an effort to encourage people to become aware of their HIV status (National Minority AIDS Council release, 6/27). Blacks, Hispanics and men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by the virus, according to the Contra Costa Times. Blacks account for almost half and Hispanics account for about 20% of AIDS cases diagnosed in the U.S., the Times reports (Bohan, Contra Costa Times, 6/26). Black women are diagnosed with AIDS at more than 20 the rate of white women, according to CDC data (Lowe, Oakland Tribune, 6/19).
NMAC released a statement encouraging individuals across the nation to take advantage of testing events taking place in their communities. Ravinia Hayes-Cozier, NMAC's director of government relations and public policy, said in a statement, "Social, economic, educational and political disenfranchisement have helped fuel HIV infections in communities of color nationwide," adding, "Yet unchecked rates of HIV could undermine their very future. We must promote culturally competent and consistent prevention, testing and treatment messages to those most at risk."
Kevin Fenton -- director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention -- noted the racial disparities in HIV/AIDS. He said HIV "remains a public threat," adding, "It is critical that we reach these and other at-risk populations with HIV counseling and testing services" (NCHHSTP statement (.pdf), 6/27).
Fact sheets from the Kaiser Family Foundation on HIV and women, blacks, Latinos, as well as on HIV testing, are available online.