June 15, 2010
This article was cross-posted from the AIDS.gov blog. Murray Penner is Deputy Director of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.
National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) (PDF) on June 27th is an important day each year when state and local health departments and many community-based organizations (CBOs) across the nation engage with communities to promote HIV testing and early diagnosis. This visibility is an important opportunity to encourage routine HIV (as well as STD) testing, but it's not the only time for us all to promote the importance of knowing one's HIV status.
The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) promotes the importance of routine testing throughout the year, in conjunction with state and local health departments and their partnerships with CBOs and other partners in their jurisdictions.
NASTAD, in partnership with Alere (formerly Inverness Medical), has been working over the last several years to leverage the visibility of other HIV/AIDS Awareness Days (e.g., National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, etc.) and use those opportunities to promote routine HIV testing. This is accomplished by promoting testing events on HIV/AIDS awareness days and other events throughout the year, including gay pride festivals and other community events.
In addition, NASTAD continues to work closely with state and local health departments as they continue to incorporate and increase testing in clinical and other settings through CDC's Expanded Testing Initiative (PDF). Health departments are conducting this work through a variety of collaborations and partnerships with community organizations as well as clinics, hospitals and correctional settings to identify HIV-positive individuals who do not know their status and link them into medical care.
Another important collaboration promoting HIV and STD testing leading up to National HIV Testing Day is a week-long testing promotion that brings together Greater Than AIDS , a national movement to respond to the domestic AIDS crisis, in particular the disproportionate epidemic facing Black Americans, and GYT: Get Yourself Tested , a campaign to increase testing for STDs, including HIV, among young people. It is being coordinated with the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) , along with the CDC, NASTAD , and the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) . State and local health departments and the Black AIDS Institute identified free testing locations and are helping to support the effort with additional outreach and special events. The Kaiser Family Foundation is providing oversight and technical support and MTV produced the PSAs and other promotions for the outreach.
These are examples of strong partnerships and collaborations promoting increased testing efforts. Working together we can all achieve the desired result of increasing the number of people who know their status and are linked into quality care services ... On National HIV Testing Day as well as throughout the year.
P.S. We at AIDS.gov hope this post helps you think about the importance of HIV testing for every day. Want to know more about HIV testing as you approach National HIV Testing Day? Federal staff and grantees who work with domestic HIV/AIDS programs are reminded to register now for a June 22 webinar and conference call on The Current and Future State of HIV Testing in the United States. Some of the government's leading voices on HIV/AIDS will talk about HIV testing and take your questions. Learn more and register by this Friday, June 18.