July is National Latino HIV Testing Month

ALBANY, NY (July 19, 2012) -- In recognition of the serious impact HIV/AIDS continues to have on Latino communities, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) is recognizing Latino HIV Testing Month in July and urging people to get tested.

"New cases of HIV continue to be reported in disproportionate numbers in our Latino communities, making testing a priority," State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., said. "Testing is a simple, easy process that is critical to protecting your health and those of your friends and family, and we encourage people to get tested now."

Although enormous progress has been made in decreasing the number of newly diagnosed HIV infections in New York State, Black and Latino people have the highest HIV prevalence rates, HIV diagnoses rates, and death rates among persons diagnosed with AIDS in New York State. In 2010, Latinos represented 17 percent of the State's population, but Latino males accounted for 29.8 percent of new HIV cases and Latino females represented 25.5 percent of new cases.

Newly diagnosed HIV has also been increasing among young men who have sex with men (MSM), and more precipitously among young MSM of color. Among Black and Hispanic females, heterosexual transmission makes up the vast majority of newly diagnosed HIV. Similar patterns and trends have been observed in the epidemiology of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in New York State. With these trends in mind, DOH emphasizes the importance of integrating STD, Hepatitis C and HIV prevention and intervention services.

Humberto Cruz, director of the Health Department's AIDS Institute, said, "It is a major concern that after two years of decline in newly diagnosed HIV cases we are now starting to see an increase since 2010 of newly diagnosed HIV cases in MSM 13-24 years old."

As part of Latino HIV Testing Month, the DOH is encouraging a collaborative effort of Latinos throughout the State and agencies that serve Latinos to promote HIV testing. The Latino HIV Testing Month bilingual web site, http://latinohivtesting.org, provides information on locations to get tested and sites to obtain other HIV-related services. Agencies that work with Latinos can also register at the site to participate in the initiative and promote their services. Additional information may be obtained by e-mailing LHTM@latinoaids.org or by following the initiative's Twitter feed, @LatinoHIVtest, and its Twitter hasthtag, #2011LHTM.

Individuals can also visit the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) HIV and sexually transmitted disease testing resources web site at http://www.hivtest.org to locate testing sites in their communities. Mobile phone users can receive the same information within seconds by sending a text message with their zip code to "KNOWIT" (566948).

For more information about HIV/AIDS, call the New York State HIV/AIDS Hotline at 1-800-541-AIDS (Spanish, 1-800-233-SIDA) or visit DOH's web site at http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/.

Contact: 518 474 7354, ext.1 press.office@health.state.ny.us