Health and Family Services Cabinet
National HIV Testing Day is June 27
Early Detection and Treatment is One Key to Eliminating AIDS
It has been 30 years since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) diagnosed the first cases of AIDS. Gaps in testing still persist two decades after the creation of the first HIV test and 15 years after the introduction of effective therapy. Now more than ever, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) wants Kentuckians to get tested and know their HIV status.
“Routine testing ensures HIV-positive individuals are made aware of their status early before the disease progresses to AIDS,” said Sigga Jagne, manager of the DPH HIV/AIDS Branch. “Testing remains one of the most critical and effective strategies for preventing transmission, ensuring good health outcomes, keeping service costs low and keeping infected individuals healthy.”
The CDC has reported 20 percent of people with HIV do not know they are infected. Of those individuals, one-third is diagnosed so late that they develop AIDS within one year. In Kentucky, 32 percent of the 7,751 HIV cases diagnosed by the end of 2010 had a concurrent AIDS diagnosis within 30 days of the initial HIV infection. People who do not know they have HIV are believed to transmit the virus to more than half of the people who become newly infected each year. Many are diagnosed late, sometimes too late to save their lives, and certainly too late to help them avoid transmission to others. Since 2006, the CDC has recommended routine testing for everyone, regardless of risk factors.
Although there is not a vaccine or cure for HIV, those who test positive are referred to medical care and are often started on Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) medications that could reduce the viral load to an undetectable level. A recent clinical trial indicated HIV-positive people with little or no detectable live virus in their blood may be less likely to pass on the virus to others. However, the threat of transmission to others does still exist. Routine testing and HIV prevention efforts combined can prevent transmission.
Several agencies in Kentucky will provide rapid HIV testing in June to honor National HIV Testing Day, including AIDS Volunteers Inc., Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, Matthew 25 AIDS Services Inc., Ruby E Bailey Family Service Center, and Volunteers of America. Anyone who would like a free rapid HIV test is encouraged to attend one of the following events:
· June 20, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Little Canaan Baptist Church, Henderson County
· June 23, 9 a.m.-noon, Salvation Army, Christian County
· June 25, noon-6 p.m., Lexington Pride Festival, 120-150 N. Limestone St., Fayette County
· June 25, 4-8 p.m., Knowing HIV/AIDS, Brook St., Jefferson County
· June 27, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Little Canaan Baptist Church, Henderson County
· June 27, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Housing Authority, Warren County
· June 27, noon-3 p.m., Central Presbyterian Church, 318 W. KY St., Jefferson County
· June 27, 6 p.m., HIV/AIDS Spades Tournament, 2350 Woodhill Dr., Fayette County
· June 27, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., Connection Complex, 130 S. Floyd St., Jefferson County
For more information on National HIV Testing Day events or other programs and services, please contact Dennis Wheatley in the HIV/AIDS Branch at (502) 564-6539 ext. 3559 or firstname.lastname@example.org.