“July 2012 has been established as National HIV Awareness Month to make people more aware of this disease and to take the time to refocus conversation, education, and awareness of HIV in the United States,” said Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Public Health Coordinator.
He added, “HIV is an almost entirely preventable disease that needlessly devastates families and communities in every corner of the United States. There are more than 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. and every year approximately 50,000 people are newly infected.”
Leslie Terjesen, OCHD Public Information Officer, stated, “Since the explosion of the global AIDS pandemic, many Americans have come to view HIV as a problem that primarily affects the developing worlds and most are completely unaware of the devastating impact of HIV here at home. Although there have been significant advances in treatment in the 30 years since the first cases emerged, HIV is still a significant cause of death in some U.S. populations. HIV infection is the third-leading cause of death for African Americans aged 35 – 44 years and the fourth-leading cause of death for Latina women in this same age group, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Regenye continued, “Even though HIV is almost entirely preventable, it continues to spread because too many Americans are simply unaware of their HIV status, or are unable to access appropriate treatment and care due to a wide range of societal and structural barriers, including poverty and stigma.”
The Ocean County Health Department offers free, confidential HIV Counseling and Testing every Tuesday and Wednesday at their main office at 175 Sunset Avenue, Toms River. No appointments are necessary during these times but appointments are available during the day by calling 732-341-9700, ext. 7512. You can also visit the Ocean County Health Department website at www.ochd.org to find out information on the HIV Counseling and Testing Program.