The Importance of National HIV Testing Day: Leaders’ Reflections
June 27th is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), an annual observance that encourages HIV testing and emphasizes its importance in the effort to end the HIV epidemic.
This year’s theme—Take the Test and Take the Next Step—highlights that knowing your HIV status helps you choose options to stay healthy. “This year’s theme is a great reminder that however you test, and whatever your HIV test result, taking the test is just the first step in your HIV care or prevention journey,” said Kaye Hayes, MPA, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infectious Disease; Director of the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy; and Executive Director, Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).
Harold Phillips, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, said this year’s theme is one of empowerment. Ongoing HIV stigma and discrimination affect HIV testing, but this can be dismantled person-by-person through increased HIV testing, he added.
“HIV testing is foundational to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and a key pillar of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative,” Mr. Phillips said. “The expansion of HIV testing to emergency departments, pharmacies, and community health centers, in tandem with the growth of HIV self-testing, is key to increasing the number of people who know their HIV status.”
HIV testing and engagement in appropriate services is a personal responsibility and a valuable investment in corporate public health for everyone, noted CAPT John Oguntomilade Ph.D., Region IV Prevention through Active Community Engagement (PACE) Program Director & Acting EHE Coordination Lead.
“To end the HIV epidemic, testing is the critical pathway to engage in a cascade of prevention and treatment options. Testing is the gateway to syndemic and holistic approaches that optimize HIV program outcomes,” CAPT Oguntomilade said.
National HIV Testing Day highlights a part of one’s self-care routine that might be overlooked, added Kayla Quimbley, Advocates for Youth Activist, National Youth HIV/AIDS Ambassador, and member of PACHA.
“Knowing your HIV status can empower you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about your sexual and overall health,” she said.
Find a list of resources, such as service locators and CDC testing recommendations, on HIV.gov.
Also, please visit Get Healthy and Ready for Summer 2023 for resources for the LGBTQ+ community, including information on HIV testing, travel, mpox, and more.