PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
February 07, 2012

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

DHSS Observes Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
And Encourages All New Jerseyans to “Know Your Status”

In observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is encouraging African-Americans to get involved in community HIV/AIDS prevention efforts and to take time to get tested to help stop the spread of the illness.

"The black community is disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS and early detection is key to receiving treatment and properly managing the illness," said Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd.  "I encourage everyone to empower themselves by getting tested so that they know their HIV status."

The 2012 theme for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is "I Am My Brother/Sister's Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS!" and the goal is to encourage blacks across the United States to get educated, get tested, get involved and get treated for HIV.

To mark National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Department will join representatives from the New Jersey Human Development Corporation, and Project FAITH and Rebuild at the Greater Mt. Zion AME Church in Trenton. 

There were 1,005 black adult/adolescent cases of HIV reported between July 2010 and June 2011. Approximately 19,320 black residents are currently living with HIV in New Jersey; and cumulatively there have been 41,400 black HIV/AIDS cases reported in New Jersey since the start of the epidemic.

An estimated one in 61 black non-Hispanics are living with HIV/AIDS, while an estimated one in 679 white non-Hispanics are living with HIV/AIDS. Nearly 70% of children living with HIV/AIDS in New Jersey are African Americans.  

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting an HIV test should be a routine part of preventive health care.  The CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services encourage health care providers to offer testing to patients from age 13 to 64. 

"African-Americans are 14% of New Jersey's total population; however they represent 54% of those living with HIV/AIDS in the state," said Dr. Arturo Brito.  "The state is joining with health care and community organizations across New Jersey to help reduce this health disparity."

DHSS has 149 rapid HIV testing sites across New Jersey, with testing sites in every county.  Over 100,000 HIV tests were performed at these sites in 2012. People can get tested at sites including community-based organizations, hospitals, health departments, federally qualified health centers and other medical facilities, making getting tested easy and convenient.   

The Department uses a combination of CDC and state funding to provide test kits and laboratory oversight for the rapid HIV testing sites.  Some of the larger test sites are funded directly through Department grants.

Rapid HIV testing requires less than a single drop of blood from a fingertip or a gum swab. Test results are available in 20 to 40 minutes. For rapid HIV testing information, call 1-866-HIV-CHEC or visit the DHSS website at: http://www.state.nj.us/health/aids/rapidtesting/location.shtml.

For more information on HIV/AIDS visit the Division of HIV, STD and TB Services web site at: http://www.state.nj.us/health/aids/index.shtml