PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
June 25, 2021

Judith M. Persichilli

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: My Test, My Way

Organizations around the state will be hosting HIV testing and education events with COVID-19 safety protocols in place to recognize June 27 as National HIV Testing Day.

“The Department is committed to working with all necessary partners to end the HIV epidemic in our state,” Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said. “We’ve made great strides, but we have more work to do. Medication-based therapies that help prevent HIV, such as PrEP, nPEP and Treatment as Prevention (TasP), have allowed for great progress, but we must also address the social determinants of health that impact people at risk for, and living with, HIV.”

More than 38,000 people were reported to be living with HIV in New Jersey last year. An estimated 1.2 million people in the United States were living with HIV at the end of 2018, and an estimated 1 in 7 people infected did not know their HIV status.

African Americans represent 15% of New Jersey’s population as of July 2019 but 44% of those living HIV between 2019-2020. Hispanics made up 29% of New Jersey’s population in 2019 but 35% of those living with HIV between 2019-2020.

For every White man living with HIV in the state between 2019-2020, there are 2.21 Black and 2.06 Hispanic men living with HIV in New Jersey during that same time frame.

New HIV diagnoses in New Jersey have declined 13.5%, from 1,232 diagnoses in 2014 to 1,066 diagnoses in 2018, the most recent year for which complete reporting data is available.

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. In 2018, the Murphy Administration pledged to end the HIV epidemic in the state by 2025.

In addition to New Jersey’s ongoing statewide efforts to end the HIV epidemic, Essex and Hudson counties are included in the federal initiative to end the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. The initiative focuses on 57 geographic focus areas where HIV transmission occurs most frequently.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HIV testing has decreased substantially across the country during 2020 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, there were 28,422 free, confidential rapid HIV tests administered in New Jersey at more than 140 locations, compared to 65,000 administered in 2019. This testing program delivers test results in about 20 minutes, and people are linked to a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Counselor if HIV negative or HIV treatment provider if HIV positive.

To address the limitations the pandemic placed on HIV testing in the state, the New Jersey Department of Health successfully implemented two self-HIV testing approaches in 2021. The first approach, TakeMeHome (TMH) Building Healthy Online Community (BHOC), is a National Home Testing program for state and local health departments to offer confidential HIV and STD testing that is delivered, securely and discreetly, directly to constituents. The second approach is a pilot initiative with six designated sites across the state, which entails the sites requesting Orasure coupon codes to redeem for at-home test kits for their clients.

The CDC recommends individuals 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.

In addition to testing, PrEP continues to be a key HIV prevention strategy. PrEP is a single pill that, when taken once daily, can reduce the risk of acquiring HIV from sex by 90%. New Jersey funds 35 PrEP counselors who work in HIV clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), and community-based organizations. Last year, New Jersey’s PrEP program enrolled 982 new clients.

Strategies for preventing or reducing risk of HIV infection include:

  • Seeking HIV PrEP if you are HIV negative but at high risk for HIV. Call the NJ AIDS/STD Hotline at 800-624-2377 to find a counselor nearest you.
  • In emergency situations where you think you have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours, contact your health care provider immediately or go to an emergency room or urgent care clinic right away to get PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis. PEP is a short course of HIV medicines  taken very soon after a possible exposure to HIV to prevent the virus from taking hold in your body.
  • 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 and practice harm reduction. Harm reduction services are available at any of the seven Harm Reduction Centers in NJ.
  • 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 the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter @njdeptofhealth, Facebook /njdeptofhealth, Instagram @njdeptofhealth and LinkedIn /company/njdeptofhealth.

Last Reviewed: 6/25/2021