Wednesday, June 27, 2007

National HIV Testing Day, June 27th

Today is National HIV Testing Day, originated by the National Association of People with AIDS-US (NAPWA-US) in 1995. The US Department of Health and Human Services offers this site in relation to today's events, and the CDC's information can be found here.

Outreach to communities of color and vulnerable populations like teenagers and the elderly is still central to the efforts to confront the pandemic's trajectory here in the United States. While HIV/AIDS is decimating populations in Sub-Saharan Africa, infection rates in the US are still unquestionably high. The popular notion that AIDS is now a chronic treatable illness has by some accounts emboldened certain segments of the population to engage in high-risk behaviors. Despite the fact that many antiretroviral drugs are available on the market---with some combination drugs in a once-a-day formulation---drug-resistant strains of HIV are quite prevalent and individuals can still fail treatment despite the most earnest attempts and latest technological and medical advances.

Teen centers, community centers, senior centers, clinics and schools all need to be on board vis-a-vis universal HIV testing in order to protect those not yet infected, and provide counseling and potential treatment to those already infected. Many estimates have been proposed in terms of the number of infected Americans who are unaware of their HIV-positive status. Those of us in positions of influence need to do our best to encourage and facilitate HIV testing wherever---and whenever---it can be done.
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