June 27 marks National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), designated as an annual campaign to remind Americans how and when to get tested.
The "Take the Test, Take Control" initiative was reportedly developed in 1995 by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) in direct response to the growing number of HIV/AIDS infections across the country, particularly those in communities of color and other heavily impacted communities.
As CBS is reporting, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourage everyone ages 13-64 get tested for HIV at least once. High-risk individuals -- including sexually active gay and bisexual men, injection drug users or people with multiple sex partners -- are urged by the agency to get tested once a year.
"A record number of Americans living with HIV know their HIV status," writes Dr. Thomas Frieden of the CDC in a blog. "Knowing your HIV status is a critical first step to getting life-saving treatment and care. Importantly, people who know they have HIV are much less likely to spread their infection to others."
He goes on to note, "However, we still face considerable challenges -- 18 percent of Americans with HIV don’t know they are infected. That’s more than 200,000 people. To achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, we must ensure that people get tested and that those who are HIV-positive are linked to timely and effective care."
President Obama released a statement in support of National HIV Testing Day, quoted by the Miami Herald among other publications, which reads as follows:
"Knowing your HIV status is a vital step toward accessing life-extending treatment for HIV, and thanks to ongoing research, that treatment is more effective than ever.
In July 2010, my Administration released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which emphasizes the goals of reducing infections, improving health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. Two years into its implementation, the Strategy continues to focus Federal, State, and local efforts on improving the delivery of HIV/AIDS services, including expanding outreach, testing, linkage to care, and treatment."
As Reuters reports, Walgreens and a number of other well-known drugstores are offering free testing in honor of National HIV Testing Day. Click here for more details.