As part of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) recommends that adolescents and adults get tested for HIV as part of a regular self-care routine.
The theme for this year’s National HIV Testing Day is “HIV Testing is Self-care.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that 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.
Routine screening allows for the identification of HIV before it becomes advanced HIV or AIDs, fosters earlier treatment when needed, reduces the risk of transmission, and reduces stigma around HIV and HIV treatment. Healthcare providers should offer an HIV test as part of routine care.
“I encourage residents to help us end the epidemic of HIV by getting tested and seeking treatment and medications if they test positive to prevent transmission of the virus,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Testing and subsequent medical care are our best defenses to control the spread of HIV and promote better health outcomes for individuals who test positive.”
In New Jersey last year, 34,501 free and confidential rapid HIV tests were administered at more than 140 locations, compared to 28,422 in 2020. Test results are available in 20 minutes.
Those who are HIV-negative are connected to a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Counselor as necessary, and those who are HIV-positive are connected to treatment.
PrEP is a single pill that, when taken once daily, can reduce the risk of acquiring HIV from sex by 90 percent. It is an important HIV prevention strategy in addition to testing.
New Jersey funds 35 PrEP counselors who work in HIV clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and community-based organizations. In 2021, 1,140 new clients were enrolled in New Jersey’s PrEP program.
In 2020, 38,281 New Jersey residents were reported to be living with HIV. An estimated 1,189,700 Americans were living with HIV at the end of 2019, with 30,635 Americans receiving an HIV diagnosis in 2020. It is estimated that 13 percent of people infected do not know their HIV status, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
A variety of events and services in recognition of National HIV Testing Day will be held throughout the state, which will offer confidential HIV testing, health screenings, community and educational resources, and more, including:
- South Jersey AIDS Alliance and Atlantic Cape Community College, 1535 Bacharach Blvd., Atlantic City, June 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- North Jersey Community Research Initiative and Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, 293 Central Ave., Newark, June 24, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Burlington County Health Department, 15 Pioneer Blvd., Westampton, daily testing, Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- South Jersey AIDS Alliance, 112 North 7th St, Camden, June 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Department continues to work with partners to promote HIV testing and connect individuals to treatment and medications to prevent transmission of the virus. This ongoing work with providers, advocates and stakeholders aims to end the HIV epidemic in the state by 2025.
These efforts have three main goals:
- Reduce the number of new HIV infections by 75 percent
- Promote access to testing so that 100 percent of persons living with HIV/AIDS know their status
- Promote access and linkage to care so that 90 percent of persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are virally suppressed
Strategies for preventing or reducing the risk of HIV infection include seeking PrEP if you are HIV negative but at high risk for HIV, calling the NJ AIDS/STD hotline at 800-624-2377 to find a counselor near you, visiting your healthcare provider for HIV testing, and locating one of New Jersey’s HIV testing sites near you.
For more information about New Jersey HIV services, visit www.nj.gov/health/hivstdtb/hiv-aids/.