PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
June 26, 2019

Shereef Elnahal

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

Department of Health Encourages HIV Testing as part of National HIV Testing Day Observance

This Year’s Theme: Doing It My Way – Testing for HIV

Organizations around the state will be holding more than 20 community events featuring free, confidential HIV testing and education to recognize June 27 as National HIV Testing Day.

“Many New Jerseyans are still at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS, with LGBT and folks of color particularly vulnerable,” Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal said. “It is important that we emphasize days like National HIV Testing Day to raise awareness of HIV, have more people learn their HIV status, and link them to life-saving medical treatment before they progress to advanced HIV disease,” Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said.

In New Jersey, more than 37,000 people are living with HIV, and about 10 percent are unaware they have the disease. 

“From 2006 to 2016, we saw a 30 percent decline in the number of new HIV diagnoses due to highly effective treatments,” Elnahal said. “However, testing is the first and most important step.”

Last year, the Murphy Administration pledged to end the HIV epidemic in New Jersey by 2025. The New Jersey Taskforce to End the HIV Epidemic was formed to lead those efforts.  The Taskforce, made up of people living with HIV, clinical and community providers, academic researchers, and NJDOH staff; identified three overarching goals key to ending the epidemic by 2025:

  1. Reduce the number of new HIV infections by 75%;
  2. Ensure that 100% of persons living with HIV/AIDS know their status; and
  3. Ensure that 90% of persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are virally suppressed.

In May, the Department hosted a series of listening sessions to hear suggestions from the public and local stakeholders in developing a plan to address the epidemic over the next six years,

Local health departments, federally qualified health centers and community-based organizations around the state will be hosting events to commemorate National HIV Testing Day. Christopher Menschner, Assistant Commissioner of the Department’s Division of HIV, STD, and TB Services will attend the Newark Community Health Centers, Inc’s health fair in East Orange Thursday featuring free, confidential HIV testing and HIV education materials.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV, including about 162,500 people who are unaware of their status. Nearly 40% of new HIV infections are transmitted by people who do not know they have the virus.

The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once, and those at higher risk should be tested at least once a year. Healthcare professionals should offer an HIV test as part of routine care.

The Department continues to work with partners to promote testing and link individuals with treatment and HIV medications that are effective in preventing transmission of the virus.

Nearly 75,000 free, confidential rapid HIV tests were administered in New Jersey last year at more than 140 locations. This testing program delivers test results in about 20 minutes, and people can be linked to a PrEP Counselor if HIV negative or HIV Clinic if HIV positive.

Strategies for preventing or reducing risk of HIV infection include:

  • Seeking HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), if you are HIV negative but at high risk for HIV; there are 34 PrEP Counselors located across the state. Call the NJ AIDS/STD Hotline at 800-624-2377 to find the one nearest you
  • Adhering to HIV treatment regimens, if you are a person living with HIV/AIDS;
  • Using condoms consistently and correctly;
  • Avoiding sharing needles to inject fluids;
  • Refraining from sharing needles for body piercing or tattoos.

For more information about New Jersey HIV services, visit: www.nj.gov/health/hivstdtb/hiv-aids/

Follow New Jersey Health Commissioner Elnahal on Twitter.

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter @njdeptofhealth, Facebook /njdeptofhealth, Instagram @njdeptofhealth and Snapchat @njdoh.

Last Reviewed: 6/25/2019