For Immediate Release
KDHE Office of Communications
The 13th annual National HIV Testing Day is June 27. People who are engaging in behaviors that place them at risk for HIV infection are encouraged to be tested for HIV.
“We encourage anyone who has had a risk for exposure to HIV to get tested, get educated and get treatment this National HIV/AIDS Testing Day,” said L. William Lyons, director of the HIV/AIDS program at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). “HIV testing is widely available at county health departments, community-based organizations and private providers.”
It is estimated that more than 1 million Americans are infected with HIV and one-quarter are not aware of it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC stated that the communities that are at increased risk of HIV infection include African American and Latino populations, both of which are disproportionately affected with HIV when compared to other demographic groups in the United States. In 2005, it was estimated that about half (49 percent) of the people who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were African American, according to information from 33 states.
Sharon Goolsby, Center for Health Disparities Coordinator at KDHE, said that on June 29 from noon to1:30 p.m. the Community Meeting for African American Leaders will be held at the Olive Tree Banquet Hall, 2920 N. Rock Road. in Wichita. Participants will discuss ways of coordinating efforts to reduce the spread of HIV. The KDHE’s Center for Health Disparities is sponsoring the event along with Positive Directions and other sponsors.
Lyons said there are 2,693 cumulative AIDS cases in Kansas which have been reported, along with 661 cumulative HIV cases in the state since HIV reporting began in 1999. In 2006, a total of 124 HIV cases were reported in Kansas. Of the 124 cases, 40 percent were African Americans and 10 percent were Hispanics.
Lyons said issues of why people are infected with HIV/AIDS are across the board, but “most importantly, there is a lack of access to healthcare and HIV awareness.”
If you are at increased risk for getting HIV and want to get tested, contact your local health department or call the KDHE HIV/STD Section at 785-296-6174. HIV testing information is available on the KDHE Web site at www.kdheks.gov/sti_hiv/.