Rapid HIV Testing Campaign Targets African American and Latina Women

A free, Rapid HIV test that allows people to get results in 20 minutes rather than two weeks is the focus of a year-long, $2 million advertising and public awareness campaign designed to encourage more people to get tested.

The television, radio and bus advertising campaign builds on the success of a pilot campaign the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) conducted last year between July and September. That campaign resulted in a five-fold increase in the number of calls to the HIV Helpline (1-866-HIV CHECK) and a nearly 48 percent increase in testing at the height of the campaign.

“The sooner you know your HIV status, the sooner you can get treatment. More than 32,000 people in New Jersey are living with HIV/AIDS and nearly half of them are unaware of their status,” said Acting Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

“We have to reach these individuals so they can be tested and that is why we are repeating last year’s successful marketing campaign,” the Commissioner said.

The Rapid test overcomes a major obstacle in HIV testing. Getting the results in 20 minutes means people no longer have to wait one or two weeks and return to the testing site to get their results.

In 2003, before Rapid testing was available, New Jersey’s publicly funded counseling and testing sites performed 67,941 HIV tests. Of those, 23,230 people — or 34 percent — never returned to the testing site for the results.

In contrast, more than 99 percent of the 10,600 people who have taken the Rapid HIV test since it became available in November of 2003 learned their HIV status before they walked out the door.

“The Rapid test is a less stressful, more convenient way for people to learn their HIV status,” Commissioner Jacobs said.

“The 20-minute test” campaign targets African American and Latina women because women of color are disproportionately impacted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. HIV/AIDS is the number one killer of African American women between the ages of 18 and 34. Sixty-three percent of women living with HIV in New Jersey are African American and 18 percent are Latina.

More than 10,600 people have already taken the test in one of 51 locations in 14 counties around the state. The Department first began offering the test in November 2003.

via PRNEWSWire

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