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National News

AIDS Initiative Targets Those Unaware They Have the Disease

June 26, 2003

A new, rapid HIV test is at the heart of a major effort, starting Friday, to bring people who do not know they are HIV-infected into a doctor's care. CDC plans to buy nearly 250,000 rapid tests for $2 million and distribute them to state health departments as part of a major HIV prevention initiative, the test's manufacturer, OraSure Technologies, will announce today. AIDS advocacy groups, AIDS service providers and their corporate partners will underscore the importance of testing on Friday, National HIV Testing Day.

"It's tragic that more than two decades into the disease, we still have 250,000 people who don't know they have it," CDC Director Julie Gerberding said. "Our goal is to help people to know their status and get treated." "Knowing one's HIV status is one of the most powerful motivators of behavior change," Gerberding said. "Most people who know they're HIV-positive take appropriate steps to protect their partners," she said.

"The most important aspect of this new, rapid test is that each year 10,000 people in the U.S. test positive but never return for their test results," said Mick Ellis, director of testing and counseling for Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington. "With the rapid test, we'll be able to give them their results in 20 minutes."

Among the testing events in dozens of U.S. cities Friday is a "Say Yes to the Test" rally at the Studio Museum of Harlem with hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons of Def Jam Records. "It's targeted at cities with large African-American and Latino populations," said Heather Mason of Abbott, OraSure's marketing partner and rally sponsor. About 70 percent of new HIV patients are in those groups. In addition, in a taped broadcast Thursday night, Big Tigger, host of BET's "Rap City," will take the test himself.

Back to other CDC news for June 26, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
USA Today
06.26.03; Steve Sternberg

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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