Talk HIV, Test HIV, Treat HIV: The First National HIV Testing Week USA
May 23, 2014
Talk HIV. Test HIV. Treat HIV. It starts with a conversation and knowing your HIV serostatus. From June 21 - June 27, 2014 across the United States AIDS service organization, outpatient departments, health centers, community clinics, hospitals, doctor's offices, community agencies public health departments will join together to talk to those they serve about HIV, about getting tested for HIV and, if positive, about getting treated for HIV disease. Leading up to and including National HIV Testing Day, the new initiative encourages organizations and healthcare providers to plan and expand HIV testing events designed to increase the numbers of people who are aware of their HIV serostatus. The theme for the national effort is "Talk HIV. Test HIV. Treat HIV."
The goal of National HIV Testing Week USA is to raise awareness about the importance of knowing one's HIV status, to identify those who are living with HIV, confirm the diagnosis, assist with entry into HIV care and services, reduce the number of persons with late HIV diagnosis and ultimately reduce HIV infection in the U.S. For those who are at risk for HIV infection, the goal it to talk about HIV and discuss the importance of routine HIV testing and knowing your HIV serostatus. It all starts with knowing one's status. National HIV Testing Week USA includes a new website, www.nhtwus.org, with information about HIV and supports registration of testing programs, outreach events and sharing experiences about HIV.
In additional to health departments and community based agencies, pharmacies, markets, health clubs, bathhouses, bars, emergency shelters temporary and long term housing, STD programs, substance abuse and mental health centers, special events, concerts, health fairs, schools, colleges, universities, houses of worship, emergency departments, reproductive health centers, city halls, state capitols, state fairs, health departments and other public venues will host HIV testing events and participate in raising awareness about HIV and the importance of knowing one's HIV serostatus and treatment for HIV. National HIV Testing Week USA is consistent with the vision for the United States articulated by President Obama in the 2010 release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: "The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination" (NHAS, 2010). This is only possible if everyone is aware of her/his HIV serostatus and takes the necessary steps to be healthy.
The collective goal of National HIV Testing Week USA is to encourage conversation, encourage people to ask for an HIV test, to encourage more health providers to offer their patients HIV tests, and expand the number of people who receive treatment for HIV. There have been advancements in HIV treatment for those who have the virus, and advances in HIV prevention services for those at risk of HIV infection. "Today, everyone should know their HIV serostatus. If enrolled in regular HIV care, treatment and prevention services, persons living with HIV and at risk for HIV infection can experience improved health outcomes and improved well-being," said Evelyn Ullah, government co-chair, UCHAPS Steering Committee. "This new initiative calls on all of us to do our part to address HIV in our country."
"Timed to include and capture HIV outreach and testing events leading up to National HIV Testing Day, National HIV Testing Week USA is an opportunity for all of us to take timeout from our busy schedules and get ready for summer by checking in with our healthcare providers, getting tested for HIV if we are unsure of our HIV serostatus," said Jose Luis Guzman, community co-chair, UCHAPS Steering Committee. "And remember if you know your HIV status, you can make important choices about your summer fun and your health."
National HIV Testing Week USA is coordinated by the Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services, a partnership of community members and health department representatives from urban jurisdictions most heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS. UCHAPS member jurisdictions represent over one-third of the nation's epidemic, are among the epicenters of the urban HIV epidemic, and are often at the forefront of piloting new intervention strategies. National HIV Testing Week USA is a new nationwide effort to increase the number of persons who know their HIV serostatus, and if positive are receiving appropriate HIV care and services. Over the past thirty years, science has shown that receiving on-going medical care for HIV is key to keeping HIV in check, making it much less transmissible to others. Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced a new prevention intervention, pre-exposure prophylaxis which has been shown to be effective when used in combination with other behavioral and cognitive interventions. It all starts with talking about HIV, getting tested for HIV and getting treated for HIV.
National HV Testing Week USA is co-sponsored by more than twenty-five national and regional HIV/AIDS policy, advocacy, health and capacity building organizations. They include: AIDS Alliance, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AIDS Institute, AIDS United, API American Health Forum, API Wellness Center, Balm In Gilead, Black AIDS Institute, Community Education Group, HealthHIV, HIV Medicine Association, International Association of Providers of AIDS Care, Latino Commission on AIDS, Metropolitan Community Churches, MCC Global Justice Institute, National AIDS Housing Coalition, National Association of City and County Health Officials, National Alliance for HIV Education and Workforce Development, National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, National Coalition of STD Directors, National Latino AIDS Action Network, National Coalition of STD Directors, National Minority AIDS Council, Planned Parenthood NA, Positive Women's Network-USA, Southern AIDS Coalition, Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative. OraSure Technologies, Gilead Sciences and AIDSVu have also joined as co-sponsoring partners.
National HIV Testing Week USA is a collaboration with HIV in Europe which launched a very successful European HIV Testing Week where nearly 500 organizations across Europe joined together to raise awareness about HIV and provide HIV testing across the continent. "UCHAPS thanks HIV in Europe and its Secretariat, WHO-EURO and the nearly 500 organizations that participated in the first European HIV Testing Week November 22 to 29, 2013 for their invitation to collaborate on the expansion of HIV Testing Week to include the USA," said Sam Rivera, president, UCHAPS Board of Directors. "UCHAPS is enormously grateful for their generosity and looks forward to sharing lessons learned from the U.S. experience with our European colleagues."
This article was provided by Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services.
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