June 18th, 2010
02:35 PM ET

Free HIV testing to be offered in 10 cities

By Val Willingham
CNN Medical Producer

One in five of the more than 1 million HIV-infected Americans don't know it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  To help  people know their status for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases,  10 cities are taking part in the  first "Be Greater Than AIDS: Get Yourself Tested" week.

Beginning June 19, free testing will be made available in Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois;  Cleveland, Ohio; Dallas and Houston, Texas;  Los Angeles, California;  Miami, Florida; Newark, New Jersey; New York City and Washington, D.C. The week leads up to National HIV Testing Day,  June 27.

Anyone interested can log on to www.GYTNOW.org to find locations. Also, many Planned Parenthood offices across the country offer free testing for all STDs.

Celebrities including Ciara, Kelly Rowland, MTV's Sway Calloway and New Boyz will urge young people to take action to know their status in a series of new TV and radio public service ads produced by MTV in conjunction with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"Nearly 4,000 New Yorkers are diagnosed with HIV each year," said Dr. Monica Sweeney, assistant commissioner for HIV/AIDS at the NYC Health Department. "Nearly a quarter of them are already sick with AIDS – meaning they may have gone undiagnosed for a decade or more. Knowing your HIV status is one of the best things you can do for your health and to stop the spread of HIV.

"People who test negative can learn how to stay that way by practicing safer sex," she says. "People who test positive can get the treatment they need and take special precautions to avoid infecting others."

Beyond the 10 cities, users can navigate the site's testing location finder to identify local resources anywhere in the country by simply entering a ZIP code. The site also offers a multitude of resources including facts about STDs and talking tips on how to discuss STD testing with partners, parents, and health care providers.

"Testing is about community. We will never get the HIV epidemic under control until everyone understands that we are all in this together," said Frank Oldham, Jr., president and CEO of the National Association of People With AIDS. "Getting tested should be part of every American's routine health care, from adolescence through senior years, and no one should be stopped from getting tested by fear or shame"

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soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. KG

    Just as an FYI – the New York City Department of Health also offers EARLY HIV screening to high risk clients - for free. This additional HIV test can detect infection in as little as 10 days post exposure because instead of looking for HIV antibodies, it looks for HIV RNA. For more information you can search Acute HIV Infection for the science behind the testing.

    June 18, 2010 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Wonderful Info!

    If you are afraid to get tested, take this chance to be strong and go because you will either find out you are negative or be able to take charge of getting the treatment and information you deserve. Take a deep breath and do it! No matter what, it's good to know the truth and move forward.

    June 19, 2010 at 03:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. STDTestExpress

    This is a great initiative. For people who don’t live in one of these cities, there is also free HIV testing available online from June 28-July 3 through STDTestExpress.com. It's also important to remember to get tested for other STDs. While HIV is a very serious infection, we tend to discount the effects of other undiagnosed diseases. Most critically, syphilis is an infection that can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated, but is completely curable. While chlamydia can lead to serious implications if undiagnosed, it is not fatal.

    June 21, 2010 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Kelly

    Take the Test – Take Control! S-CAP (Southern Colorado AIDS Project) is offering free walk-in testing this Saturday June 26 from 10 AM to 2 PM at our main office. Visit our website (www.S-CAP.org) for more details. Ignorance is not bliss!

    June 21, 2010 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Will

    I went without getting tested for several years out of fear that I might be HIV positive. I knew that I had engaged in many unsafe activities. One day, one of my friends finally got through to me and made me understand that the best thing to do is to get tested. That way if you are poz, you can take care of yourself, get the medication you need, and stop the HIV from taking over your body. The only way to know is to get tested. I did finally get tested myself and found out that I do in fact have HIV. Thank goodness my friend supported me and went with me to get tested.

    June 21, 2010 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Erin

    We need to reduce the stigma associated with testing positive so that people will not be afraid to get tested.

    Dr. Monica Sweeney hit the nail on the head with her comment "People who test negative can learn how to stay that way by practicing safer sex," she says. "People who test positive can get the treatment they need and take special precautions to avoid infecting others."

    For those that do not have access to free testing, http://www.TestMeSTD.com offers confidential and affordable HIV and STD screening tests.

    July 31, 2010 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Door Curtains 

    oh i just so wish that we can already cure HIV in the next few years~;*

    October 19, 2010 at 04:17 | Report abuse | Reply
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