AIDS United Observes National HIV Testing Day

Urges Testing, Awareness, and Advocacy to Create an AIDS-Free America

Statement of Victor Barnes, Interim President and CEO

Washington D.C. - June 27, 2012 -- "On June 27, 1995, the National Association of People Living with AIDS (NAPWA) launched the annual National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) to promote awareness about the importance of every person in the United States knowing his or her status. Seventeen years later, there has never been a more critical time to observe this day, and to "Take the Test and Take Control."

"We are at the crossroads. And the first step on the path to ending the epidemic in our lifetime begins with us. Today, CDC estimates approximately 20 percent of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV are unaware of their HIV status. If we don't know our status, we won't connect to the life-saving care and treatment. If we don't know our status, we won't take steps to prevent transmitting HIV to others. If we don't know our status, we won't be able to end the HIV epidemic. It's that simple.

"But it doesn't stop there. This year's NHTD also kicks off National HIV Awareness Month (of which AIDS United is a founding partner), to re-ignite our national discourse on the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic in order to create broad-scale public awareness of HIV/AIDS, end HIV stigma and discrimination and engage new stakeholders in the fight against the disease.

"It is also the eve of the Supreme Court ruling on what is arguably the most important federal legislation to impact people living with HIV/AIDS, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ruling - no matter what it is - will profoundly affect people living with HIV/AIDS in our country. We must continue to be vigilant in working with our state and federal lawmakers to ensure that all those living with HIV have access to the life-saving treatment and care that they need.

"The 20th International AIDS Conference will be in Washington, D.C. at the end of July - the first such conference in the United States in more than 20 years, and presents yet another tremendous opportunity to talk about AIDS in our country and around the world.

"The fact is, we have the tools to end the epidemic in our lifetimes! We have a National HIV/AIDS Strategy. We have tremendous advances in treatment and prevention solutions. We have public and private investors eager to support innovative community responses to the epidemic.

We can do this! We can create an AIDS-free America. We can create an AIDS-free generation. But we each have to take the first simple step to making that happen. Take the test. Take control! Help end AIDS!"