New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett is encouraging residents to get tested for HIV as part of annual National HIV Testing Day on June 27.
"Testing is critical to determine your HIV status. Early detection is key to managing the disease,” Commissioner Bennett said. “Some people are living with HIV and do not know it. They risk not receiving the medical care they need to stay healthy and unknowingly passing HIV to others.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated one in eight people in the U.S. who have HIV are unware they are infected. More than 90 percent of new HIV infections in the U.S. could be prevented by testing and diagnosing people who have HIV and ensuring they receive prompt, ongoing care and treatment, according to the CDC.
In New Jersey, more than 38,000 people are living with HIV, and about 15 percent are unaware they have the disease. The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once, and those at higher risk should get tested at least once a year. Healthcare professionals should offer an HIV test as part of routine care.
Highly effective treatments are available that can improve longevity and quality of life for those living with HIV. The goal of the annual National HIV Testing Day observance is to make more people aware of their HIV status and link them to life-saving medical treatment before they progress to advanced HIV disease. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the CDC recommends HIV testing with each pregnancy, both for the mother’s benefit and to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby.
Nearly 99,000 free, confidential rapid HIV tests were administered in New Jersey last year at more than 150 locations. This testing program delivers test results in about 20 minutes. For rapid HIV testing information, call 1-866-HIV-CHEC or visit the Department's website at http://www.nj.gov/health/aids/rapidtesting/location.shtml.
The development of the New Jersey statewide HIV Linkage to Care network has successfully linked a majority of New Jersey's new HIV infections to medical treatment. This network connects HIV-positive people to medical treatment at 15 sites located throughout New Jersey.
In Northern New Jersey, HIV navigator sites are located at:
- Rutgers, NJ Medical School and St. Michael's Medical Center in Newark;
- Jersey City Medical Center;
- Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth;
- St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson and
- Zufall Health Center in Dover.
In Central New Jersey, navigator sites are located at:
- Morristown Medical Center;
- Eric B. Chandler Health Center in New Brunswick;
- Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune; and
- Zufall Health Center in Dover.
In Southern New Jersey, navigator sites are located at:
- Henry J. Austin Health Center in Trenton;
- Atlanticare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City;
- Cooper Health System in Camden;
- Kennedy Hospital in Voorhees, and
- Complete Care Health Network in Bridgeton.
Strategies for preventing or reducing risk for HIV infection include:
- Adhering to HIV treatment regimens, if you are HIV-infected,
- Abstaining from sexual activity,
- Using condoms consistently and correctly,
- Avoiding sharing needles to inject fluids,
- Refraining from sharing needles for body piercing or tattoos, and
- Seeking HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), if you are at high risk for HIV.
Numerous National HIV Testing Day events are scheduled throughout New Jersey to recognize this observance. More information about these events can be found at http://web.doh.state.nj.us/apps2/aids/events.aspx
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