On National HIV Testing Day State Health Commissioner Urges New Yorkers: 'Get Tested'

Earlier Diagnosis Means More Effective Treatment

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 26, 2008) - State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D, urged New Yorkers to get tested for HIV and know their HIV status as the nation observes National HIV Testing Day on Friday.

"Learning your HIV status is as simple as it is important," Commissioner Daines said. "Armed with this information, you can help protect your own health as well as that of your partners and your community."

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than one million Americans are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. As many as one-quarter of HIV-infected persons are unaware that they have the infection. Undiagnosed HIV infection delays receiving treatment and contributes to transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Some 4,550 New Yorkers received a first diagnosis of HIV in 2006. Of these, 1,213 or 26.7 percent were diagnosed with AIDS within one month of their HIV diagnosis, an indication that the HIV infection had existed and progressed for some time without treatment. An additional 8.3 percent were diagnosed with AIDS within one year of HIV diagnosis.

"Late diagnosis of HIV frequently results in the disease progressing more quickly to full-blown AIDS," said Humberto Cruz, Director of the State Health Department's AIDS Institute. "Getting diagnosed early and getting care quickly following a diagnosis can make having HIV a chronic, manageable condition. New York State has the finest HIV services in the nation."

As part of National HIV Testing Day, HIV testing events are being conducted throughout New York. New Yorkers may obtain a simple HIV test at many locations, including public health clinics, medical providers, and community-based organizations.

Many of sites offer rapid testing, which allows individuals to know their results in as little as 30 minutes.

Project W.A.V.E. (War Against the Virus Escalating) is one of many organizations promoting free HIV testing in the community. Project W.A.V.E. works with more than 230 member agencies throughout the state to provide HIV counseling and testing services or referrals for these services.

The Project W.A.V.E. website, http://www.projectwaveny.org, provides a calendar of testing events and an interactive map showing testing locations, hours of operation and contact information.

On the National HIV and STD Testing Resource website at http://www.hivtest.org, users can enter a zip code and find local testing sites.

While everyone should know their HIV status, individuals for whom an HIV test is particularly important include those who answer yes to any of the following questions:

  • Have you had unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with multiple partners, anonymous partners or men who have sex with men?
  • Have you injected drugs or steroids or shared equipment (such as needles, syringes, works) with others?
  • Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
  • Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis, tuberculosis (TB), or a sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea, Chlamydia, or syphilis?
  • Have you had unprotected sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the previous questions?

New Yorkers wanting more information about testing or want to have a free rapid HIV test can call the hotlines associated with the Health Department's anonymous HIV counseling and testing programs:

The New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute also maintains the following HIV/AIDS hotlines for HIV testing and other questions:

  • English: 1-800-541-AIDS (2437)
  • Español: 1-800-233-SIDA (7432)
  • Deaf/TDD: 1-800-369-AIDS (2437)