Friday, 06 14, 2013
Beth Fisher or Gwenda Bond,
(502) 564-6786, ext. 3101 or 3100
Free Screening, Education Offered Around the State
In honor of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is promoting routine HIV testing and awareness. The HIV/AIDS Branch in DPH provides mini-grants to community-based organizations and local health departments to host free testing events in order for individuals to learn their status and be linked to services when indicated.
“Routine testing ensures HIV-positive individuals are made aware of their status early before the disease progresses to AIDS,” said Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, DPH commissioner. “Testing remains one of the most critical and effective strategies for preventing transmission, ensuring good health outcomes, keeping service costs low and keeping infected individuals healthy.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 20 percent of people with HIV do not know they are infected. Of those individuals, one-third is diagnosed so late that they develop AIDS within one year. In Kentucky, 32 percent of the 7,751 HIV cases diagnosed by the end of 2010 had a concurrent AIDS diagnosis within 30 days of the initial HIV infection. People who do not know they have HIV are believed to transmit the virus to more than half of the people who become newly infected each year.
Since 2006, the CDC has recommended routine testing for everyone, regardless of risk factors. Early screening and detection are important in fighting the disease to avoid further health complications and to reduce the likelihood of the disease being transmitted to others.
Specifically, CDC recommends routine HIV screening for all people age 13 to 64. People who are at a higher risk for infection should be tested at least annually. People at high risk include those with multiple sex partners or whose sex partners have multiple sex partners; injection drug-users and their sex partners; people who exchange sex for money or drugs; men who have sex with men; and sex partners of someone with HIV.
Public health’s statewide network of HIV testing sites, which includes local health departments and community-based organizations, provides risk reduction counseling and assists patients/clients in developing a behavior-change plan to reduce risk of getting infected themselves or infecting others with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Numerous events providing free HIV rapid testing will take place around the state throughout June, including:
June 14-15, free testing and education as part of 2013 PRIDE celebration, Louisville Belvedere, Waterfront Park, Downtown Louisville.
June 17, free testing and education, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Salvation Army of Bowling Green, 400 W. Main Ave., Bowling Green.
June 20, afternoon gospel fest, noon to 5 p.m., New Beginnings Church, 4127 Flintlock Drive, Louisville.
June 22, church health fair, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Faith Fellowship, 727 S. 15th Street, Louisville.
June 25, free testing, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 2106 St. Louis Ave., Louisville.
June 28, free testing and education, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Housing Authority of Bowling Green, 247 Double Springs Road, Bowling Green.
June 28, neighborhood test fest, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Nia Center, 2900 W. Broadway, Louisville.
June 29, free testing, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Walgreens, 110 Town Center Dr., Lexington.
June 29, free testing, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Crossings, 117 N. Limestone, Lexington.
July 3, free testing, 8 p.m. to midnight, The Bar Complex, 224 E. Main Street, Lexington.
According to CDC, 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV; 18 percent of those individuals are unaware of their status. Nationwide, 50,000 individuals are newly infected with HIV annually.
CDC data also indicates that half of all people living with HIV reside in the South, although this area contains just over a third of the United States population.
In Kentucky, HIV disproportionately affects racial minorities, particularly the African-American and Hispanic populations. In Kentucky, African-Americans represent 7 percent of the state’s population, yet made up 34 percent (2,884) of new HIV infections diagnosed as of June 30, 2012. Meanwhile, Hispanics/Latinos comprised 2 percent of the state’s population, yet accounted for 4 percent (319) of new HIV infections diagnosed during the same time period.
“The most prevalent reason people don’t seek testing is stigma,” said Gayle Yocum, HIV/AIDS prevention section supervisor. “There is concern family or friends may be judgmental or there will be consequences at work. A delay in diagnosing HIV is a life and death issue, with many individuals receiving a concurrent diagnosis of HIV/AIDS upon initial testing. Early intervention and linkage to care is critical to enhance the quality of life and reduce costs for treatment.”
For more information about the National HIV Testing Day/Month Campaign or other programs and services, contact Yocum at (502) 564-6539, ext. 4291, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on HIV, visit http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/epi/hivaids.htm.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is home to most of the state's human services and health care programs, including Medicaid, the Department for Community Based Services and the Department for Public Health. CHFS is one of the largest agencies in state government, with nearly 8,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Commonwealth focused on improving the lives and health of Kentuckians.