FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 27 is National HIV Testing Day
"Maryland is Greater Than AIDS"
BALTIMORE, MD (June 23, 2014) – The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DHMH) Prevention and Health Promotion Administration (PHPA) will join the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Greater Than AIDS campaign, and state and local partners to observe National HIV Testing Day on June 27, 2014. This year’s theme is “Maryland is Greater Than AIDS.”
According to the CDC, 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. As of December 31, 2012, there were 29,477 Marylanders diagnosed and living with HIV or AIDS. While cases are still being diagnosed each year, the good news is that the number of new HIV cases in Maryland is trending downward. From 1997 to 2010, there was a 9% decrease in the number of new HIV cases; during that same period, there was a 35% decrease in the number of deaths. Specific groups affected by these reductions include people 30-49 years old and those who report becoming infected by injection drug use.
“We still have a long way to go,” said Dr. Laura Herrera, Deputy Secretary of Public Health, “but we are making progress. Scientific technology has expanded our testing options and now with rapid testing, people can know their results in as little as 20 minutes. We strongly encourage anyone 13 years of age and older to get tested for HIV and to know your status.”
Marylanders are encouraged to avoid risk behaviors for HIV, such as unprotected sex; alcohol and drug use; sharing IV drug needles; and engaging in sex for drugs, money, and shelter. “In aligning our efforts with the goals of the National HIV AIDS Strategy, our push in combating HIV infection focuses on linkage-to-care,” said Deborah McGruder, Director of the Infectious Disease Bureau (IDB). “It is important that as we continue to offer HIV testing and to document the benefits of treatment, that we also emphasize hope, unity, and personal empowerment, and reinforce that the end of AIDS is possible when people come together to achieve the greater goal of a Maryland with no new HIV infections.”
DHMH and the Kaiser Family Foundation are using media outlets, such as radio, television, and billboards, to encourage Marylanders to get tested for HIV. Free HIV testing is offered daily at various locations across the state throughout the year. To find an HIV testing location near you, contact your local health department or visit www.hivtest.org. To learn more about types of HIV tests, go to http://aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/prevention/hiv-testing/hiv-test-types/. To learn more about the Greater Than AIDS campaign, visit http://greaterthan.org/. For additional information about HIV prevention, testing, treatment and support services, go to: http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/SitePages/infectious_disease.aspx.
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