September 27th is National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Gay Men are Encouraged to Get Tested, Talk with Their Partners about Testing, and Get Involved in Their Communities for an HIV Free Generation
ALBANY, N.Y. (September 27, 2013) – National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will be observed on Friday, September 27th to raise gay men's awareness of the HIV epidemic and the role they can play in bringing HIV to an end. In observance of the sixth annual National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the State Department of Health (DOH) is urging gay men to get tested, talk with their partners about testing, get connected to medical care if they are HIV positive, and remain connected to care and adherent to their HIV medications.
New HIV diagnoses have declined 39% overall in New York State between 2002 and 2011, from 6,072 to 3,732 annually. However, new diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) rose 3% during this same time frame. In fact, MSM comprised approximately one half of all new HIV diagnoses and two-thirds of new male diagnoses in 2011. The increase in new HIV diagnoses among MSM is concentrated among the youngest age groups, with new annual diagnoses among MSM in the 13 to 25 age group nearly doubling between 2002 and 2011 (from 291 cases to 576 cases).
Timely linkage to medical care and proper adherence to HIV medication is critical to ensure the best possible health for the individual and to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus to others. In 2010, 78 percent of MSM newly diagnosed with HIV were linked to HIV medical care within three months of their diagnoses and 68 percent received continuous care throughout 2010. Of all newly diagnosed MSM in 2010, an estimated fifty percent achieved viral suppression.
"These statistics suggest that about one half of the MSM diagnosed with HIV in New York State are not getting the benefits they need to manage their disease and keep the virus under control." said State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. "The key strategies for fighting HIV/AIDS are prevention, testing, and treatment. While these have proven effective in the reduction of overall infection rates, we need to improve the results for gay men in New York State, especially young gay men."
Dan O'Connell, Acting Director of the New York State Department of Health's AIDS Institute, said, "Our current challenge is to develop, in collaboration with our community partners, innovative and effective HIV prevention and treatment approaches for young MSM, so they realize the benefits of decreasing HIV transmission already being experienced by other segments of the population throughout New York State."
The Department of Health has a toll-free confidential AIDS Hotline at 1-800-541-AIDS, where individuals can learn more about HIV, as well as access information about free HIV testing in their communities. Additional information can be accessed at: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/.
Additionally, the National HIV and STD Testing Resource website (www.hivtest.org) allows visitors to find local testing sites by entering a zip code. Cell phone users can send a text message containing their zip code to "KNOWIT" (566948) and within seconds receive a return text message listing an HIV testing site in that area.