In the run-up to National HIV Testing Day June 27, CDC has released new statistics indicating that more than 1.1 million Americans are HIV positive, with 21 percent unaware of their status.
Health officials are using events on and around Sunday to encourage all individuals to verify their HIV status.
"No single step can do more to stop the spread of HIV and improve the health and prolong the lives of those who are infected," said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
In Philadelphia, a leader in the AIDS service organization Philadelphia FIGHT called on faith-based organizations to encourage testing as a way to halt the spread of HIV.
"Philadelphia FIGHT believes that the slowing of the spread of HIV requires the education of the general public, and that faith leaders have the ability to use their voices to ensure that everyone gets tested, those living with HIV seek treatment, and those not exposed to the virus stay healthy," Development Director Mark Seaman said.
The Philadelphia FIGHT advisory board, which includes former Mayor Wilson Goode Sr., Bishop Audrey Bronson, and the Rev. Dr. Marguerite Handy, is continuing its work with faith communities to promote HIV prevention, Seaman said.
Philadelphia FIGHT is working with community groups to offer HIV testing at various locations through the end of June. For details, visit www.fight.org/aem.