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NAPWA's 17th Annual National HIV Testing Day, June 27th, Promotes Over 100 Activities Nationwide That Offer Free, Lifesaving, HIV Testing

CDC Joins National Association of People With AIDS in Promoting Life Saving HIV Testing Initiatives

SILVER SPRING, MD, Jun 22, 2011 - Tens of thousands of Americans are expected to be tested for HIV at events from coast to coast organized as part of the National Association of People with AIDS' (NAPWA) National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) on June 27th, 2011. A list of testing events nationwide is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website created to promote the events. Awareness is spreading online of events nationwide on Twitter, using #NHTD.

National HIV Testing Day is conducted by NAPWA in partnership with ACT Against AIDS, The Black AIDS Institute, Gilead, GetYourselfTested.org, GreaterThan.org, Health HIV, OraSure Technologies, Inc., and The Mayors Campaign Against HIV. The CDC provides a comprehensive list of testing locations open nationwide on National HIV Testing Day.

"This year, more than ever before, we know that HIV testing saves lives," said Frank Oldham, Jr., President and CEO of NAPWA. "Knowing your HIV status and seeking medical treatment in the event of a positive test not only extends survival for the person diagnosed, but it also helps stop the spread of the disease by empowering people living with HIV/AIDS to reduce transmission. This is why NAPWA founded National HIV Testing Day in 1995."

Mayors Campaign Against HIV Brings the Testing Message Home This year, NAPWA is also hosting the seventh annual Mayors Campaign Against HIV, in partnership with OraSure Technologies. Last year, more than 100 Mayors across the country supported National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) by hosting HIV testing campaigns in their cities, conducting news conferences to discuss local HIV testing resources, issuing proclamations in support of NHTD and even stepping forward and getting tested themselves.

NAPWA and OraSure partner with mayors and testing organizations throughout the United States to highlight the importance of routine HIV testing. NAPWA also collaborates with Congressional lawmakers to bring a renewed focus to testing and prevention initiatives.

"We are very pleased to be joining forces with NAPWA and participating mayors again this year as we publicly unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS through our Mayors Campaign Against HIV," said Douglas A. Michels, President and Chief Executive Officer of OraSure Technologies. "We are extremely proud that our technology is a driving force in getting more people tested and enabling HIV-positive individuals to learn their status earlier so they can access care sooner."

National NHTD Media Events For the fifth year in a row, NAPWA and U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) will host a news conference [held June 24th -- call contact for details] on U.S. Capitol grounds to focus attention on the HIV epidemic and the need for those at risk for HIV to get tested. Other expected and invited speakers include Jeffrey Crowley, Director, White House Office of HIV/AIDS Policy and Mayor Vincent Gray, Washington, D.C.

"Up to 70 percent of new infections come from people who are unaware of their HIV status," said Representative Lee. "We must do everything we can to raise awareness in our communities about the benefits of testing whether on NAPWA's National HIV Testing Day, or any other day. Testing is a very important tool in the global response to this epidemic."

NAPWA will also join OraSure for a community observance of NHTD in New York City at the opening of the NASDAQ Stock Market on Monday, June 27, 2011.

A Shifting Legal Landscape: HIV Testing, Prevention, and Criminalization NAPWA recognizes early diagnosis and treatment of HIV infections as an important step towards reducing the number of new infections and controlling future public healthcare costs. The public interest in early detection and treatment is so compelling that legal and behavioral barriers to testing should be removed wherever they exist.

NAPWA therefore calls on states that do not offer anonymous HIV testing to do so, and for those that actually forbid it to change their laws. NAPWA also calls on states to repeal laws making certain behaviors illegal for people who know they have HIV but not for others. The laws do nothing to reduce the number of new infections. They do, however, give people who think they may be living with HIV but don't know for sure a powerful practical incentive not to get tested. By reducing the number of tests, the laws may actually increase the number of new infections.

HIV Testing Facts and Who Needs to Get Tested? Today, CDC estimates approximately 21 percent of the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV are unaware of their HIV status. These individuals unintentionally cause 54 to 70 percent of America's nearly 60,000 new infections annually. Seventy-five percent of HIV+ people will change risky behaviors when they learn their status. Risk-based testing is NOT reaching the goal of identifying all HIV+ people.

The CDC recommends testing for everyone ages 13 to 64. Everyone should be tested once and then decide how regularly to be tested. It's especially important for people in high-risk groups to get tested regularly. These include:

  • Sexually active younger teenagers;
  • Poor women of color;
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM);
  • People who inject or snort drugs with others;
  • Sex workers, including anyone who has to exchange sexual favors for necessities of life; and
  • People who live in HIV "hot spots," sometimes only a few blocks in area, where the HIV infection rate is so high that anyone who is sexually active is at risk.
  • About NAPWA's NHTD Take the Test, Take Control Campaign and Media Materials NAPWA believes voluntary HIV counseling and testing is a critical first step in taking control and responsibility over one's health, hence our message: "Take the Test, Take Control."

    In partnership with the Greater Than AIDS Campaign and OraSure Technologies, NAPWA has distributed 70,000 NHTD posters to local health departments, community clinics and other community-based organizations that engage in HIV testing initiatives, to ensure that communities have the resources they need to mount an effective HIV testing campaign.

    Electronic versions of the joint Greater Than AIDS Campaign (Get Yourself Tested) and the NAPWA's NHTD campaign (Take the Test, Take Control) can be found at www.greaterthan.org and www.napwa.org . Click HERE to read NAPWA's guidelines for routine testing and counseling.

    The National Association of People with HIV/AIDS (NAPWA) is the largest and oldest advocacy group of and for people living with HIV/AIDS. The organization created AIDSWatch, the largest annual legislative briefing day by people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as National HIV Testing Day, June 27th, 2011. NAPWA's Healthy Living Summit in Dallas, August 7 to 10, 2011 is the preeminent educational forum for the daily health needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. More information is available at www.napwa.org . Follow us on Twitter @NAPWAUS.

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    CONTACT:
    Peter Kronenberg
    240 247-1025
    Email: pkronenberg@napwa.org


    "Reproduced with permission - "National Association of People with HIV/AIDS (NAPWA) "

    National Association of People with HIV/AIDS (NAPWA)
    www.napwa.org


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