June 27 is National HIV Testing Day

State Health Commissioner Urges New Yorkers to Get the HIV Test; 1 in 5 People with HIV Don't Know They are Infected

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 26, 2012) – In recognition of National HIV Testing Day on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., today urged New Yorkers to get tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, noting that 1 in 5 New Yorkers with HIV do not know they have it.

"With approximately 130,000 New Yorkers currently living with HIV/AIDS and nearly 4,000 newly diagnosed cases each year, New York is greatly impacted by the HIV epidemic," said Commissioner Shah. "The State's HIV testing law makes it easier than ever to get tested for HIV when an individual visits a health care provider; all New Yorkers should say 'yes' to the test."

Under a State law that took effect September 2010, HIV testing must be offered to all persons between the ages of 13 and 64 who receive hospital or primary care services. This applies to hospitalized patients, persons seeking services in emergency departments, and persons receiving primary care at clinics or from physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners or midwives.

Dr. Shah noted that there has been a 13 percent increase in testing since the law went into effect, but additional progress needs to be made. He called on health care providers to ensure they offer the test consistently by making it part of routine health care for all their patients.

Early detection of HIV allows treatment to be started in the early stages of the disease, when treatment is most effective. Currently, 1 in 3 persons diagnosed with HIV in New York is diagnosed after the infection has already progressed to AIDS, or at a stage where AIDS develops within one year of diagnosis. Improved testing will provide individuals with appropriate health care services to prevent the onset of AIDS.

While everyone should know his/her HIV status, testing is particularly important for those who have:

  • Injected drugs or steroids with others or used shared equipment (e.g. needles, syringes, works) currently or any time in their past;
  • Been diagnosed with or been treated for hepatitis, tuberculosis (TB), 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; or
  • Had sex with a partner they located on the Internet.

Where to Get the HIV Test

For New Yorkers needing assistance in getting an HIV test:

In New York City:

Call: 1-800-TALK HIV or dial 311.

Rest of State:

  • 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 Region (Nassau/Suffolk) 1-800-462-6786
  • Syracuse Region 1-800-562-9423

Additionally, the National HIV and STD Testing Resource website at www.hivtest.org allows visitors to enter a zip code and find local testing sites in that area. 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.

Persons seeking general information on HIV can call the New York State Health Department's hotlines:

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