National HIV Testing Day is held on June 27th. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) leads this observance with the goal of educating communities about the importance of preventive HIV vaccine research. This week is also a time to thank those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to find safe and effective treatments for HIV, including a vaccine.
HIV in the United States
- Approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV. About 13 percent of them don’t know it.
- HIV disproportionately impacts certain populations, including racial and ethnic minorities and gay men.
- HIV diagnoses are not consistent across the U.S. The highest rates of new diagnoses occur in the South.
- In 2019, nearly 35,000 new HIV infections were diagnosed.
Why HIV Testing is Crucial
One of the best tools we have to fight HIV is testing. When a person doesn’t know they have HIV, they can transmit the infection to their partners. However, if they receive a diagnosis, they can start taking the appropriate medication.
HIV treatment is safer and more effective than ever. While antiretroviral medicines do not cure HIV, they stop the virus from multiplying. This helps protect the immune system, and also lowers viral load levels in the body. Once levels are undetectable, the virus can no longer be transmitted during sex.
Getting Tested for HIV in New Jersey
Knowing your status is crucial to preventing the transmission of HIV. Here in New Jersey, the best place to get tested for HIV is the Prevention Resource Network (PRN). The PRN provides high impact prevention services to help those who have or are at risk for HIV. For those that do receive an HIV diagnosis, community-based HIV case management services are available.
These services ensure that those with HIV have access to medical care, medications and therapy. The PRN offers rapid HIV testing on-site, as well as a Mobile HIV testing unit that travels through Monmouth and Northern Ocean counties.
If you or someone you know is at risk for HIV, we encourage you to utilize the services from the Prevention Resource Network. They are free and confidential, and you can find out your status in just 20 minutes!