News release: Testing and treatment are as important as prevention to stop spread of HIV

News Release
June 27, 2016

Contact information

Testing and treatment are as important as prevention to stop spread of HIV

Free testing opportunities available in observance of National HIV Testing Day

Health officials are urging people to get tested for HIV because knowing your status and getting proper treatment are just as important to the fight against HIV as prevention methods.

With proper treatment and care, HIV-positive individuals can achieve viral suppression, meaning the amount of virus in the blood is very low. This reduces the risk of spreading the virus to others.

“Getting tested is the first step,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “Cost and access to testing can be a concern, so we are working with community partners to promote free HIV testing opportunities for National HIV Testing Day.” (Locations and testing days are listed at the end of this release.)

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. This annual campaign is an opportunity for federal partners, health departments and other organizations to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and early diagnosis of HIV. This year’s theme is “Everybody’s doing it” to promote the need for all of us to know our status.

HIV testing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that health providers screen all people 13 to 64 years of age. Annual HIV screening is recommended for those at risk who have had unprotected sex, a new sexual partner, or shared needles or equipment to inject drugs.

“HIV testing should be part of everyone’s regular health routine to keep ourselves and our community healthy,” said Dr. Ehlinger. “There are options for people diagnosed with HIV to get proper care.”

Staff in the STD, HIV, TB section at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) work with individuals who are HIV-positive to link them to care. In 2013, 87 percent of people diagnosed with HIV were linked to care within 90 days of diagnosis.

“We are committed to helping people overcome barriers to getting tested and receiving the right care,” said Krissie Guerard, section manager for the STD, HIV, TB section.

Along with regular HIV testing for everyone, health officials also stressed the importance of continued prevention methods to stop the spread of HIV. These include:

  • Consistently practicing safer sex, including using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners.
  • Avoiding the sharing of needles or equipment to tattoo, body pierce, or inject drugs.
  • Getting into and staying in care if infected.

June 5, 2016, marked 35 years since the CDC released a report detailing the first cases of what would later become known as AIDS.

A total of 11,009 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported in Minnesota since MDH began tracking AIDS in 1982 and HIV in 1985. On average, 300 new HIV cases are reported to the department each year. An estimated 8,215 persons are living with HIV/AIDS in the state.

Information about HIV and where to get tested is available from the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) AIDSLine, 612-373-2437 (Twin Cities Metro), 1-800-248-2437 (Statewide), 1-888-820-2437 (Statewide TTY), Text "AIDSLINE" to 839863, or by email at: mapaidsline@mnaidsproject.org. MAP AIDSLine offers statewide information and referral services, including prevention education, HIV risk assessments, HIV testing and referrals to HIV testing sites.

-MDH-

Community HIV Testing Events – Free and Open to the Public

Monday, June 27: Face to Face will be open for free, rapid HIV testing throughout the day at their clinic at 1165 Arcade St., St. Paul, MN. They will also offer testing at the youth drop-in center, SafeZone at 130 E 7th St., St. Paul, MN from 1:30-3 p.m.

  • Regular open testing hours at SafeZone on Mondays and Tuesdays from 1-3:30 p.m.
  • Regular open testing hours at clinic on Wednesdays from 2:30-4:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 1-4 p.m.

Saturday, August 20: African Health Action will host their 5th Annual Community Health Fair from 12-5 p.m. at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, 10360 West River Rd, Brooklyn Park, MN

Rural AIDS Action Network (RAAN) will be at the following greater Minnesota Pride festivals:

  • Sunday, July 17, 11a.m.-5p.m., Peace Plaza, 15 1st St SE, Rochester, MN
  • Saturday, August 20 11a.m.-4p.m., Island Park, 700 2nd Ave, Fargo, ND
  • Saturday, September 3, 11a.m.-7a.m., Bayfront Park, 350 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN
  • Saturday, September 10, 12-5p.m., Riverfront Park, 310 W. Rock St., Mankato, MN
  • Saturday, September 17, 11a.m.-4p.m., Lake George/Eastman Park, 1109 7th St S, St Cloud, MN

 


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications
651-201-4993