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For Release:  June 14, 2011 – Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – 405/271-5601

Public Health Officials Urge Testing for National HIV Testing Day, June 27

This year marks 30 years since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initially reported the first cases of AIDS, which makes the 2011 observance of National HIV Testing Day on June 27 most notable.  

Currently, more than one million people in the United States are living with HIV infection.  Highly active antiretroviral therapy has been very effective at keeping diagnoses and deaths stable since 1998.  However, despite a decline in AIDS cases and deaths, at the end of 2008, an estimated 1,178,350 persons were living with HIV including 236,400 who were undiagnosed and did not know their HIV status.  In Oklahoma, the 2009 Oklahoma HIV/STD Comprehensive Epidemiologic Profile estimated 8,181 cases of HIV/AIDS have been diagnosed among Oklahoma residents.

Jan Fox, chief of the HIV/STD Service for the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) said, “Judging from CDC’s findings, we have to take into consideration that the number of Oklahomans with HIV infection could be much higher, which is why we encourage testing.”  

Fortunately, testing is accessible and affordable.   Most county health departments have an STD clinic or nurse on site who can administer an STD and HIV antibody test at minimal cost.  There are non-profit test sites throughout the state that provide conventional and/or rapid tests at no cost. For the test site location nearest you, dial 2-1-1, or text “Know It” on a cell phone and type in a zip code.  

Awareness is the beginning of action.  To increase awareness, the following outreach events and activities are scheduled in Tulsa and Oklahoma City to recognize National HIV Testing Day on June 27:

H.O.P.E. (Health Outreach Prevention Education, Inc) will be offering free HIV rapid testing at three separate sites in Tulsa on June 27.  Anyone over the age of 12 can get tested.  The locations are:
• Tulsa Technology Center (Peoria Campus) - 3850 N. Peoria, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
• H.O.P.E. – 3540 E. 31st Street, Suite 3, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Oklahomans for Equality – 621 E. 4th Street, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information on these Tulsa testing events, contact Joe Williams at joe@hopetesting.org, or call (918) 749-8378, or log on to www.hopetesting.org.

Guiding Right, Inc. (GRI) will host a National HIV Testing Day Mobile Initiative June 24-26, to provide free rapid testing at various sites throughout Oklahoma City.  The schedule is as follows:
• Friday, June 24 - N.E. Kelley Street from 12:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.
• Friday, June 24 - Hefner and Western from 5:15 pm to 9 p.m.
• Saturday, June 25 – S.W. 44th and Robinson from 12:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.
• Saturday, June 25 – N.W. 122nd and Penn Avenue from 5:15 p.m. to 9 p.m.
• Saturday, June 25 – Bora Bora at 2415 N. Walker from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
• Sunday, June 26 – N.W. 39th Street from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.

For more information on these events, contact Nina Johnson at njohnson@guidingright.org, or call (405) 733-0771, or log on to http://www.guidingright.org/.

Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund (OACF), in collaboration with Expressions Community Fellowship Church and other community partners including OSDH, will be sponsoring free and rapid HIV antibody testing at the Oklahoma City Gay Pride weekend festivities.  All testing will be conducted at Expressions Church, 2245 NW 39th Street on the following dates:
• Saturday, June 25, from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
• Sunday, June 26, from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

For more information, contact Sunshine Schillings at sunshineschillings@sbcglobal.net.

For more information about National HIV Testing Day, visit http://www.aids.gov/awareness-days/national-hiv-testing-day/.

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