The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Regional Operations (ORO) recognizes National HIV Testing Day on June 27 in Region 5 (Chicago). This year’s Testing Day theme is “Knowing,” which highlights the importance of knowing your HIV status, knowing where you can get tested, and knowing how you can connect to care and treatment services if you test positive. Approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV, but one in seven people with HIV are unaware they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to access traditional places where HIV testing is provided, including health centers and Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program medical sites, HIV screening continues to be essential to reducing new HIV infections and to improving health outcomes for people with HIV. HRSA encourages promoting access to and continuity of care in a safe way to support social distancing during the COVID-19 public health emergency. One example of a safe way to encourage HIV testing during this time is through self-testing. The CDC recently published guidance about HIV self-testing programs using an FDA-approved home test as a way to supplement ongoing HIV prevention efforts.
In addition, this Testing Day HRSA recognizes there is an unprecedented opportunity to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. through the Administration’s “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America” initiative. This is a 10-year plan which began in FY 2020 to achieve the goal of reducing new HIV infections to less than 3,000 per year by 2030. Through HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and Health Center Program, the agency continues to play a leading role in helping diagnose, treat, prevent, and respond to end the HIV epidemic.