President Barack Obama used National HIV Testing Day to call on businesses, faith groups, scientists, academia, and philanthropic organizations to fight against HIV.Advertisement
In a statement released Friday, Obama praised the "huge advances in HIV research, prevention, and care." Even so, he stressed that HIV/AIDS "remains an epidemic" in the United States. "That is why my administration is launching in the coming days a comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy focused on reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care, and reducing HIV-related health disparities."
"And all of us have a responsibility to reduce our risk and know our status, to continue to support those already affected by this disease, and to fight the stigma and discrimination people still face," Obama said.
The statement noted that most new infections are spread by persons who are unaware they have the virus -- a status that describes approximately one in five of the 1.1 million Americans with HIV.
"Research shows that people who know their status take better care of themselves and take steps to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others. That is why it is so important that people get tested," the statement said.
In a related development, the New York Senate voted 42-10 for a bill that would require providers in most health care settings to offer HIV testing to patients ages 13-64, according to the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). The companion Assembly bill also is expected to be approved.
"Offering an HIV test to adults seeking health care will decrease stigma," said Marjorie J. Hill, CEO of GMHC. By making it an easier process, the number of people getting tested will increase dramatically. Ultimately, the bill will allow more New Yorkers to take charge of their health and access the treatment and care they need," she said.
The full text of the president's remarks is found at www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/statement-president-national-hiv-testing-day
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