For Immediate Release
November 25, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

December 1 is World AIDS Day

People at Risk of HIV Exposure Urged to Get Tested

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s HIV/AIDS Program has committed to testing at least 1,000 Kansans in observance of the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day on December 1.  The commitment was made to the World AIDS Day Project AIDS Healthcare Foundation, whose goal is to test 1 million people for HIV from November 26 until December 1.

“We encourage anyone who has had a risk for exposure to HIV to get tested, get educated and get treatment this World AIDS 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.”

Early detection is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle if diagnosed with HIV.  Counseling and testing helps provide people with HIV/AIDS with the knowledge they need to protect their own health and that of their partners, and helps people who test negative get the information they need to stay uninfected. 

There is an estimated 4,000 cumulative HIV and AIDS cases in Kansas.  Of the cumulative AIDS cases, 19 percent are among blacks, 69.8 percent are among whites and 9 percent are among Hispanics. Of the cumulative HIV (not AIDS) cases, 26.4 percent are among African Americans, 57.4 percent are among whites, and 12.5 percent are among Hispanics.  African Americans comprise 6 percent of the state’s total population; Hispanics comprise 8.6 percent. Members of racial and ethnic communities may be at increased risk due to a variety of factors not limited to but including socioeconomic factors, access to healthcare and generally greater reluctance to be tested for HIV.

It is also estimated that 50 to 70 percent of new HIV infections are transmitted by those who are unaware of their infection.  Early testing and diagnosis play a key role in reducing the spread of HIV. Persons at high risk for HIV infection should be screened annually. The CDC recommends that persons ages 13-64 get tested for HIV to help stop the spread of the disease, regardless of their perceived risk.  

Many events are planned throughout Kansas in recognition of World AIDS Day:

Kansas residents who are at risk for HIV can get tested at one of more than 80 sites in the state. Contact your local health department or the Kansas Department of Health and Environment HIV/STD Section at 785-296-6174 for the location nearest you. HIV testing information is available on the KDHE Web site at www.kdheks.gov/sti_hiv/.  Information on public testing sites, the new state epidemiologic profile for HIV/STD, and a downloadable statewide guide of HIV/STD services can be accessed through the KDHE website at www.kdheks.gov/hiv/download/quick_guide.pdf. Additional information from the CDC can be accessed at www.cdc.gov/hiv/.