Testing Urged for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Sunday, February 7, is National Black HIV/ AIDS Awareness Day. Contra Costa Health Services' HIV/AIDS & STD Program is urging all county residents, especially African Americans, to get tested for HIV. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection can progress to an AIDS diagnosis if an HIV-infected individual is not treated to reduce viral load and support the immune system.
"In Contra Costa County, African Americans comprise about 30% of the all new HIV diagnoses. The majority of the new cases are men and most were infected by having sex with another man," said Obiel Leyva, Manager of Education, Prevention and Testing with the HIV/AIDS & STD Program. "National Black HIV/ AIDS Awareness Day is an important reminder to act."
The national theme for the day is "I am my brother's and sister's keeper. Fight HIV/AIDS!"
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 7 (14%) are unaware of their infection. The CDC recommends that everyone be tested at least once in their lifetime, and those at higher risk (e.g. intravenous drug users who share needles; people with multiple partners or HIV positive partners) should be tested at least annually.
Getting an HIV test is easy. HIV testing is a covered service by most health insurance plans. Ask your primary care physician for more information and a test. For those without health insurance coverage, Contra Costa Health Services HIV/AIDS and STD Program offers free rapid HIV testing and outreach. For a list of testing locations and times, visit our website.
In Contra Costa, services for individuals living with HIV/AIDS are available. Please call 1-800-287-0200 for more information.
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