Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Date: June 27, 2012
HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise in Delaware, particularly infectious syphilis among men. Having an STD makes it easier to transmit HIV from one person to another. The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) and its community partners are urging everyone that have not been tested recently and are not in a strictly monogamous relationship to help control the spread of HIV by getting tested-on National HIV Testing Day (June 27) or any day.
"Free and rapid HIV testing is always available throughout the year at statewide sites, but a national day of observance is an important reminder that people should know their HIV status." said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH Director. "The best way to protect your health and the health of your loved ones is to get tested, get treatment if you are HIV positive, and, as always, help prevent the spread of this disease." Jim Dickinson, DPH HIV Prevention Program Administrator explains, "As many as 800 people in Delaware right now may have HIV and don't know it. The only way to stop this epidemic is for everyone to know his or her HIV status. The only way to know is to get tested - it's that simple." He continues, "It's not complicated. Use condoms. Get tested. Get treatment, if needed. Stop the transmission of HIV."
The CDC recommends that everyone age 13 - 64 receive routine HIV screenings as part of regular medical care. Men who have sex with men that are not in a monogamous relationship should be tested for HIV at least once a year. Mr. Dickinson warns, "HIV infection cases among gay or bisexual men are on the rise again - especially among young, African American, gay and bisexual men."
Heterosexuals who engage in high-risk sexual practices and anyone who shares needles for any reason are also encouraged to get tested at least once a year. Testing is also recommended for women considering pregnancy and pregnant women in the early months of pregnancy. Preventive treatment can prevent an HIV positive mother from passing HIV to her baby.
"HIV is not just "somewhere else", continued Mr. Dickinson. "It is in our neighborhoods, our towns, our rural areas. We are giving it to each other. Still - over thirty years after the AIDs epidemic began. Get tested and stop the cycle of transmission."
To prevent HIV, use condoms, limit the number of your sexual partners, and do not share needles for any reason. To reduce your HIV risk, personalized risk reduction counseling is available at HIV testing sites.
To find the closest risk reduction counselor and free HIV testing, visit www.hivtest.org and type in your ZIP code. If you do not have internet access, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). You can also visit the DPH HIV Prevention Program at www.dhss.delaware.gov/dph/dpc/hivaidsprogram.html for additional information.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.