Daniel E. Regenye, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Public Health Coordinator, stated, “This year is the 19th annual National HIV Testing Day, which every year is recognized on June 27th. The message then and now remain, Take the Test, Take Control. There is more reason than ever to get tested. If you test negative, you can work to stay negative. If you test positive, you can work to stay healthy and protect the one you love.”
Regenye added, “With rapid HIV testing, people at risk of becoming HIV-positive are given the tools to more rapidly and frequently update their status. Information and education regarding HIV transmission, gives a person the opportunity to make safer choices and it can dramatically alter the course of the disease. By making people more aware of HIV transmission and encouraging people to be tested, communities can help to counter the role that denial, fear, and stigma still play in preventing people from learning their HIV status and gain access to necessary care and treatment services.”
Jennifer Crawford, OCHD Supervisor of Communicable Disease Services, continued, “HIV is still a threat in the U.S. Although there are many more treatments available to help people with HIV/AIDS live longer and healthier than ever before, AIDS is still a significant health issue. Crawford offers these facts:
• At least 1.1 million Americans are living today with HIV
• Of those 1 million people living with HIV, 1 out of 5 do not know they are infected
• Despite new therapies, people with HIV still develop AIDS
• Over 1 million people have been diagnosed with AIDS in the U.S.
• More than 14, 000 people with AIDS die each year in the U.S.
The Ocean County Health Department offers free, confidential HIV Counseling and Testing on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings each week from 5:30 to 8:00 PM at its main headquarters on 175 Sunset Avenue, Toms River. There are a limited number of daytime appointments in addition and can be made by calling 732-341-9700, ext. 7512. Bi-lingual counseling is also available by appointment.
The Ocean County Health Department also offers free clinic services for uninsured Ocean County residents infected with HIV or have been diagnosed with AIDS. Support groups are available also for clients and family members.
For those who Take the Test, Take Control, they can learn their HIV status and make informed decisions about their lives. This initiative also sends the message to those at risk and those already living with HIV that there are important reasons to learn one’s HIV status.
You can call the Ocean County Health Department for information at the above number or you can visit the TOPICS/SERVICES or RESOURCES section of the Ocean County Health Department website at www.ochd.org.