Here in the United States, Sunday (6/27) is National HIV Testing Day. Every year, about 40-thousand people in the US become infected with the AIDS virus. President Bush recently promoted the event.
"Across America June 27th is national HIV Testing Day. (applause) For the sake of their health and for the sake of the health of others, I urge all Americans at risk to get the test."
President Bush speaking this past week in Philadelphia. The National Association of People with AIDS is hoping thousands of Americans heed his call. Paul Feldman is a spokesman for the group in Washington.
He says, "Between 180 and 280,000 Americans are living with HIV and don?t know it."
He says ignorance about one?s HIV status can have serious, if not deadly, consequences.
"Not knowing your status means you can?t take advantage of care and treatment that?s available to preserve your health and let you live a normal life. So what happens is people who don?t know their status sometimes wind up entering a health care system at a time when they are far more ill," he says.
Mr. Feldman says it?s never been easier to be tested for HIV in the United States. Rapid tests are available and can provide results in 20 minutes. A standard test can take a week to ten days.
The spokesman for the National Association of People with AIDS says the epidemic in the United States is changing.
"Certainly the face of AIDS is changing as we say. Relatively more people of color are becoming HIV infected; relatively more heterosexuals are becoming infected. And most disturbing, I think, is that 50-percent of the infections each year in the US are found in individuals younger than 25," he says.
As for the African-American Community, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Information Day is usually held in February each year.