July Marks Latino HIV Testing Month in New York State

National HIV Testing Day is June 27

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 24, 2010) - In recognition of the serious impact of HIV/AIDS on New York's Latino communities, New York State observes July as Latino HIV Testing Month, using National HIV Testing Day on June 27 as a springboard to encourage agencies that serve Latinos to promote HIV testing and screening for sexually transmitted infections throughout July. It is important that Latinos get tested for HIV and know their HIV status to protect themselves, their partners and their families and, if HIV-positive, to seek health services at an early stage of the disease.

"Learning your HIV status is as simple as it is important," State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., said. "Armed with this information, Latino men and women can help protect their own health as well as that of their partners and their communities."

Latinos represent 16.0 percent of in New York State's population but account for 30 percent (36,545) of people living with HIV/AIDS in the State. Federal data indicate that Latinos diagnosed with HIV may be more likely to be tested late in their illness—that is, diagnosed with AIDS within one year of testing positive and missing critical opportunities to receive early access to an array of life-enhancing health and social support services.

On the National HIV and STD Testing Resource Web site at http://www.hivtest.org, users can enter a zip code and find local testing sites. Mobile phone users can send a text message with their zip code to "KNOWIT" (566948) and, within seconds, receive a text message identifying a HIV testing site near them.

"Latino HIV Testing Month is an important reminder of the role of HIV testing in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic," said Humberto Cruz, Director of the AIDS Institute. "By getting tested, you, your loved ones and your community benefit.".

As part of the Latino HIV Testing Month, the AIDS Institute encourages all Latinos in New York State and all agencies that serve Latinos to get involved in the initiative, to partner with other agencies and hold HIV testing events. The Latino HIV Testing Month initiative has a bilingual web site, http://latinohivtesting.org , for Latinos to learn where to get tested and to get HIV services locally. Agencies that serve Latinos can register at the site and participate in the initiative.

While DOH recommends that everyone between the ages 13-64 know their HIV status, the HIV test is particularly important for those who have:

  • Injected drugs or steroids or shared equipment (e.g. needles, syringes, works) with others;
  • Exchanged sex for drugs or money;
  • Been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis, tuberculosis, or a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis;
  • Had unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with multiple partners, anonymous partners or men who have sex with men; and/or
  • Had unprotected sex with anyone who has taken any of the risks outlined above.

For more information on additional testing or for a free rapid HIV test, call the hotlines associated with the State Health Department's anonymous HIV counseling and testing programs:

  • Albany Region: 1-800-962-5065
  • Buffalo Region: 1-800-962-5064
  • Lower Hudson Valley Region: 1-800-828-0064
  • Rochester Region: 1-800-962-5063
  • Long Island (Suffolk/Nassau) Region: 1-800-462-6786
  • Syracuse Region: 1-800-562-9423

The AIDS Institute operates 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)

Within New York City, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also maintain an HIV/AIDS Hotline for information on HIV counseling and testing sites at: 1-800-TALK-HIV or dial 311.