By Meron Tesfai
National HIV Testing Day is tomorrow, June 27, 2012. This recognition day was started in 1995 to promote the importance of HIV counseling, testing, and early diagnosis.
Despite advances in treatment, education and outreach, a significant number of people continue to be unaware of their status, enter into treatment late, or are stigmatized. Moreover, communities of color continue to be disproportionately impacted by the epidemic.
In 2010, an estimated 318 new HIV infections occurred in Boston. There are a total of 5,220 known people living with HIV, the three highest risk categories were:
- Men who have sex with men
- Heterosexual sex (male to female sexual contact)
- Injection drug users
How you can stop the spread of HIV:
- Wear a condom or barrier like dam when engaging in sex acts
- Avoid sharing needles or drug equipment
- Practice abstinence (do not have any type of sex)
- Avoid sharing body piercing and tattooing equipment including ink
- Get yourself tested!
National HIV Testing Day gives us an opportunity to communicate the importance of HIV testing and to offer convenient testing locations to those at greatest risk. Participation in local events across the city will also enable communities at highest risk to gain access to HIV prevention education, treatment, and care.
Call the mayor’s health line at 617-534-5050 or Toll-Free at 1-800-847-0710 or visit their website for information on low-cost HIV testing centers throughout the city.
Take the Test, Take Control!
Meron Tesfai is a project manager in the Infectious Disease Bureau’s Education and Outreach Office.