A new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Contorl finds that both the number of HIV tests administered and the number of new HIV diagnoses were substantially higher in the week around the 2010 National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) than in two other “control” weeks during that year. For the study, CDC researchers analyzed HIV testing data collected through the 2010 National HIV Prevention Program Monitoring and Evaluation System. They compared testing data for the number of HIV testing events and new HIV-positive diagnoses for the week of NHTD (June 24-30) with two control weeks (January 7-13 and August 12-18). The comparison revealed that an average of 15,000 more testing events were conducted and 100 more new HIV diagnoses were identified during NHTD week than during the control weeks.
In addition, compared to persons tested during the control weeks, a significantly higher proportion of those tested during NHTD week were: aged 50 years or older; non-Hispanic Blacks or African Americans; men who have sex with men; low-risk heterosexuals; tested with a rapid HIV test; or tested in a non-health-care setting.
“NHTD campaigns reached populations disproportionately affected by HIV and further expanded testing to people traditionally less likely to be tested,” the CDC researchers noted. “Incorporating strategies used during NHTD in programs conducted throughout the year may assist in increasing HIV testing and the number of HIV-positive diagnoses.”
Toward that end, National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD) was held last Saturday, September 27. The National Association of People with AIDS founded NGMHAAD “to help gay men remember how much we have accomplished together in the fight against HIV/AIDS, remember the quarter-million lovers and brothers we have lost, and renew our commitment to ending what is now an endable epidemic.”