June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. Many locations have been set up for free testing, something that has been happening in the United States since 1995.
In observance of the 2012 National HIV Testing Day, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck is encouraging everyone to utilize resources available statewide to get tested and learn their HIV status.
“Take the test and take control of your health. Knowing your HIV status puts you in greater control,” Dr. Hasbrouck said. “In Illinois we have partnered with many organizations to keep HIV testing free, confidential and accessible. I encourage everyone to get tested today.”
National HIV Testing Day was created by the National Association of People with AIDS, and has been observed every June 27th since 1995 to raise awareness about HIV prevention and education.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 1 in 5 of the 1.3 million Americans living with HIV are unaware that they are infected. Illinois ranks 7th nationwide in the diagnosis of HIV infections, and 5th nationwide in the estimated number of AIDS cases. There were more than 1,700 new cases of HIV and AIDS diagnosed in 2010 and almost 55,000 people living with HIV and AIDS in Illinois.
The populations in Illinois with the highest number of new infections include gay and bisexual men (men who have sex with men, or MSM) of all races and ethnicities, “high risk” heterosexuals and injection drug users. African Americans in Illinois are disproportionately impacted by HIV. African Americans represent about 14 percent of the population in Illinois yet accounted for half of all new HIV infections in 2010.
Another alarming trend is the increasing number of HIV cases diagnosed among adolescents and young adults: 37 percent of all HIV infections in Illinois are among 13-29 year olds – the highest rate in the state.
IDPH is committed to providing access to resources to reduce these statistics. A public service announcement from Dr. Hasbrouck has been airing on radio stations statewide encouraging Illinoisans to find the closest free HIV testing site by calling the department’s HIV/AIDS and STD Hotline at 1-800-AID-AIDS (1-800-243-2437). IDPH’s innovative Text2Survive mobile service also provides free HIV testing locations by texting IL plus ZIP code to 36363. This service is also available in Spanish by texting “CENTRO” plus ZIP code to 36363.
IDPH’s Center for Minority Health Services also launched BASUAH (Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS) as a comprehensive HIV/AIDS awareness, outreach and education program specifically targeted to the African American community. The program has administered more than 6,000 HIV tests and trained more than 5,000 peer educators known as “BASUAH Ambassadors” since 2005. The Center for Minority Health Services also funds the Wellness on Wheels mobile health vans which provide HIV and STD testing and health screenings statewide. To schedule a Wellness on Wheels mobile health van visit, call 1-866-792-4325.
To learn more about BASUAH, visit HYPERLINK "http://www.basuah.org"www.basuah.org, and to learn more about IDPH’s resources and initiatives for HIV/AIDS, visit HYPERLINK "http://www.idph.state.il.us/aids/default.htm"http://www.idph.state.il.us/aids/default.htm.