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For Release:
November 28, 2008

Heather Howard

For Further Information Contact:
Dawn Thomas

DHSS Recognizes 20th Anniversary of World AIDS Day Co-sponsors Health Fairs and Events to Promote HIV testing



The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), in recognition of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, is co-sponsoring a series of events designed to raise awareness and understanding of the impact of HIV/AIDS worldwide and to encourage residents to get tested for HIV.


The World AIDS Day Campaign has chosen as its theme from 2005 to 2010:  “Stop AIDS.  Keep the Promise,” which commemorates leadership and highlights the need for innovation, vision and perseverance in the face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 


“It has been three decades since AIDS appeared and although there have been significant accomplishments in reigning in this disease, recent studies show that the crisis is still with us,” said DHSS Commissioner Heather Howard.  “It is important we take steps in mitigating the impact of this epidemic.  Today is an opportunity to work in partnership with all stakeholders and encourage people to get a Rapid HIV test to learn their status, and get necessary treatment.”


Rapid HIV testing is a diagnostic tool that allows patients to learn their HIV status in 10 to 40 minutes.  As of November 2008, more than 150 publicly funded counseling testing sites in New Jersey are licensed to conduct rapid HIV testing. 


The 2008 DHSS Division of HIV/AIDS Services Report revealed that more than 35,000 persons were reported living with HIV or AIDS in New Jersey, with minorities accounting for 76 percent of adult/adolescent cumulative HIV/AIDS cases and 78 percent of all persons living with the disease. 


New Jersey ranks fifth among the states with more than 70,000 cumulative AIDS cases and has one of the highest percentages of women who have the disease.  Injection drug use and sexual contact remain the major modes of exposure to HIV infection.  While the proportion of reported cases with HIV/AIDS who were exposed through injection drug use (IDU) is lower than in the past, the proportion cases that were exposed through sexual contact is increasing.


Latinos account for 15 percent of the state’s population and 22 percent of all new HIV infections.  African Americans make up 14 percent of the state’s total population, but 56 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS in the state.  Nineteen percent of women living with HIV in New Jersey are Latinas, and 70 percent of those infections are the result of heterosexual contacts.


As part of DHSS observance of World AIDS Day, Commissioner Howard will join the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children on Dec. 1 to highlight their new housing initiative for the homeless living with HIV/AIDS.


Throughout December, several community events co-sponsored by the Department’s Division of HIV/AIDS Services will be held to raise awareness about HIV and to encourage the public to take control of their health and get tested.  These events include health fairs, memorial services, AIDS memorial quilt displays and HIV testing services. 


For a copy of the 2008 Statewide World AIDS Day Events Calendar visit:


“Our partnership with community-based organizations has proved useful in our efforts to provide comprehensive HIV services,” said Laurence Ganges, Assistant Commissioner for the Department’s Division of HIV/AIDS Services.  “These partnerships are critical as we continue our on-drive to reach the most at-risk populations.”


Monday, Dec. 1 marks the twentieth annual observation of World AIDS Day.  The observance was established in 1988 as a day to focus attention on the ongoing devastation that HIV/AIDS continues to have throughout the world.  It is a day of observation and commemoration.


For more information on HIV/AIDS, visit: or call the New Jersey HIV Helpline:  1-866-HIV-CHECK.



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