Today New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd joined the New Jersey Human Development Corporation to commemorate National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day at the Greater Mt. Zion AME Church in Trenton.
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which is February 7, encourages African-Americans to get involved in community HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, and to get tested for HIV.The 2013 theme is "I am My Brother's/Sister's keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS."
"Although we've made great strides over the years in reducing the transmission of HIV, every day more people become infected," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "Currently, more than 36,000 New Jersey residents are living with HIV or AIDS and statistics tell us that too many of them are African American."
African Americans continue to bear the largest and most disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDS of all racial, ethnic or demographic groups. African-Americans are 14 percent of New Jersey's total population, however they represent 53 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS in the state. Sixty-three percent of all women living with HIV/AIDS in New Jersey are African American and nearly 50 percent of men living with HIV/AIDS are African American.
Commissioner O'Dowd commemorates National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day by delivering remarks to more than 200 people at the Greater Mt. Zion AME Church in Trenton. The event took place on February 5.
"Early detection is key to getting into treatment, managing HIV and having the best quality of life so I encourage everyone to get tested and learn their status," added Commissioner O'Dowd.
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.
More than 140 rapid HIV test sites are available around the state-in all 21 counties. Approximately 100,000 HIV tests were performed at these sites last year. Testing sites include community-based organizations, hospitals, health departments, federally qualified health centers and other health facilities that make getting tested easy and convenient.
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.
In October, Governor Chris Christie and Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd visited the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation in New Brunswick to announce more than $19.5 million in state funding for 54 community organizations, hospitals and health agencies for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. $11.1 million of that funding was dedicated to education and HIV testing.
For information on HIV testing, call 1-866-HIV-CHEC or visit the DOH web site at: http://nj.gov/health/aids/rapidtesting/index.shtml