It’s National HIV Testing Week

Do you know your status?

More than 30,000 people are living with HIV in Philadelphia. Are you one of them?

Local AIDS organizations like Philadelphia FIGHT and ActionAIDS are encouraging people to get tested in honor of National HIV Testing Week, a special awareness program that’s part of AIDS Awareness Month. Free testing events have been set up throughout the city to encourage people to find out their status (Philadelphia FIGHT also accepts walk-ins for free testing throughout the year). Ever since 1994, Philadelphia FIGHT has been organizing the testing event during Gay Pride Month to bring awareness to the importance of early diagnosis.

Even President Obama discussed the impact of testing, focusing on his administration’s HIV/AIDS Strategy. “One in five Americans living with HIV is not aware of their infection and this research highlights the imperative of making sure people know their HIV status and getting those who do have HIV into care,” he said in a statement this week.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also stresses that early detection can mean HIV-positive people can live long and healthy lives. “A recent initiative to test for HIV more rigorously in emergency rooms and health centers in areas of need identified 30,000 people with HIV,” she said in a statement. “Of that group, more than 18,000 people did not know they had the infection.”

She said that health care providers are increasingly recognizing the importance of routine HIV testing for both adults and adolescents – and not just persons who may have an identifiable risk factor. “We need to spread the word that knowing your HIV status helps you take control of your health, protect your loved ones and get connected to treatment, if needed,” she said.

For a list of testing sites and times in Philadelphia, please click here.