National HIV Testing Day: Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ Statement

    HIV ribbonDo you know your HIV status? On June 27, the nation will observe the annual National HIV Testing Day.

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    HIV testing is so important because it gives you the information you need to make good decisions about your health. If you test negative, you can take steps to stay that way (which may include periodic testing if you engage in high-risk behaviors). If you have HIV, there are medications that will help you stay healthy and live longer. These medications—known as antiretroviral therapy (ART)—also make it significantly less likely that you might pass the virus to someone else.

    The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has already expanded access to free HIV screening for many people. For those living with HIV/AIDS, the healthcare law will help to ensure they get the care and treatment they need. That is good news, and the ACA has more in store. On January 1, 2014, many of the ACA’s most important provisions will begin increasing access to healthcare for millions of Americans, including those living with HIV/AIDS. To prepare, as of October 1, 2013, people can begin enrolling in ACA-mandated Health Insurance Marketplaces to find affordable health insurance.

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    Since the mid-1990s, the number of people who are diagnosed with HIV each year has remained relatively stable at about 50,000 infections per year. Certain groups, including African Americans, Latinos, and gay and bisexual men of all races/ethnicities, continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. We are particularly concerned by a significant increase in new infections among young gay and bisexual men. Between 2008-2010, this group of young men (ages 13-24) had a 22 percent increase in new infections—and young black men in that group now account for more new HIV infections than any other subgroup by race/ethnicity, age, and sex. That news is deeply troubling.

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