Today Is National HIV Testing Day

Advocates especially want to make sure that African Americans and Latinos find out their status.

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Wednesday is National HIV Testing Day, and there's no mystery about how people committed to fighting the epidemic would like you to celebrate. "Testing is really is the starting point of letting people live healthier lives," says Dr. Jonathan Mermin of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The latest generation of tests detect the presence of the virus at the time [those already infected] are most likely to be infectious.” 

Advocates are spreading that message to everyone, but they especially want to make sure that African Americans and Latinos hear it loud and clear, Loop 21 reports:

With the prevalence of HIV among African American men and women much higher than previously believed, advocates are stressing the need for more frequent testing and for a wider range of testing options.

"We should not lose sight of the fact that you can’t get treated for HIV if you don't know that you have it," said Phill Wilson, president of the Black AIDS Institute. "It has never been easier."

The CDC on Tuesday announced plans to make home testing kits available at pharmacies and retail stores nationwide.

Until then, advocates and health professionals want anyone without current knowledge of their status to take advantage of a free test today and any day tests are offered.

"Anybody can get HIV whether you're young or old, gay, straight black or white," said Aletha Mayband, assistant commissioner of the New York City Health Department. "It is especially important for the African American and Latino communities to get tested since eight out of 10 new HIV cases occur among blacks and Latinos."

Read more at Loop 21.

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