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Free and Confidential HIV Testing Available for Tennessee Residents

Nashville, TN — The Tennessee Department of Health will join health providers and advocates across the nation in observing National HIV Testing Day on Sunday, June 27th. The goal of this annual observance is to raise awareness and promote prevention of HIV. The Tennessee Department of Health encourages all sexually active Tennesseans, regardless of age, to get tested for HIV. TDOH provides free, confidential testing across the state in local county health departments.

“It is imperative that Tennesseans who are sexually active take responsibility for their health and the health of their partners by knowing their HIV status,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “This knowledge is crucial to slowing the spread of HIV and AIDS.”

Department of Health statistics show the urgent need for increased effort to prevent HIV, with cases reported in every county in Tennessee. In 2008, there were 1,071 new cases of HIV diagnosed in Tennessee; 73 percent were among male patients and 27 percent were in females. African Americans continue to be the most disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in Tennessee, comprising 64 percent of new cases. Since 1992, more than 20,000 people in Tennessee have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Of that number, 14,901 Tennesseans are currently living with HIV/AIDS.

“We urge Tennesseans to make HIV testing a routine part of their medical care,” said Carolyn Wester, MD, MPH, medical director of the state’s HIV/AIDS/STD section. “The earlier people know their status, the quicker they can begin treatment, which leads to longer and healthier lives. Without treatment, the HIV infection weakens the immune
system and will likely progress to AIDS.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are around 1.1 million adults and adolescents living with HIV in the United States, including those not yet diagnosed. CDC data also indicate that people unaware they are HIV-positive are responsible for transmitting 50 to 70 percent of new infections. Nationwide, someone is infected with HIV every 49 seconds.

Anyone can obtain free, confidential HIV testing at Tennessee’s local county health departments. Health department clinics across the state also offer counseling with a trained health care provider on ways to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV. A list of local county health departments is available online at http://health.state.tn.us/localdepartments.htm.

Information on other sites that offer HIV testing can be found online at www.HIVtest.org. Mobile phone users can send a text message with their ZIP code to “KNOWIT” (566948), and within seconds will receive a reply via text message identifying nearby testing sites.

To learn more about HIV/AIDS and know how to protect yourself, visit www.nineandahalfminutes.org.  Questions about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases can also be answered by calling the HIV/AIDS/STD Hotline at 1-800-525-2437.


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