June 28, 2013 – The Health Department today announced that together with its community partners, The Bronx Knows and Brooklyn Knows, over 1.4 million HIV tests have been conducted since June 2008. Among those tested, 3,626 new positives were identified and 78% of those newly diagnosed have been linked to care. The announcement was made at Brooklyn Borough Hall during today’s Brooklyn Knows’ free HIV testing event in recognition of National HIV Testing Day.
New York Knows is a large-scale public health initiative that aims to increase voluntary HIV testing so that every New York City resident learns his or her HIV status and has access to quality care and support services. Nationally, of the more than 1.1 million people living with HIV today, nearly one in five, or nearly a quarter of a million people, do not know their status. One-third of those who are HIV infected are diagnosed so late, they develop AIDS within one year. Early diagnosis and treatment saves lives and is known to reduce the spread of HIV.
Brooklyn Knows is New York City’s second borough-wide HIV testing initiative (following The Bronx Knows) and one of the largest HIV testing efforts in the country. Brooklyn has some of the highest numbers of persons living with HIV in New York City. By the end of 2011, approximately 27,700 Brooklyn residents had been diagnosed and were reported to be living with HIV/AIDS. More than 980 residents were newly diagnosed with HIV that same year, the highest number of new HIV diagnoses among the five boroughs. More than one-quarter of Brooklyn residents newly diagnosed with HIV receive an AIDS diagnoses within 31 days of learning they have HIV, meaning that they were likely infected with HIV years earlier.
“By the end of 2011, just over 113,000 New York City residents had been diagnosed and were reported to be living with HIV/AIDS and thousands more don’t know they are infected,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “Negative or positive, it’s important to get tested and know your status as part of staying healthy. And, if infected, make sure you get and stay in care.”
“Brooklyn is number one in so many ways, but one thing we must change is the fact that some of the nation’s highest concentrations of HIV and AIDS cases are here, particularly in Central Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “And with several thousand more who are infected with HIV but don’t know it, it becomes even more critical to get tested. That’s why Borough Hall was proud to partner with Brooklyn Knows to host National HIV Testing Day screenings last year, and will continue to get the message out today and every day to all New Yorkers: take control, get tested, and be healthy!”
There were more than 3,400 new diagnoses of HIV in NYC in 2011, over half of which were among men who report sex with men. Although the total number of new HIV diagnoses has decreased since 2010, new diagnoses among persons aged 13-29 increased from 2010 to 2011. The CDC and the NYC Health Department encourage everyone to get tested and discuss starting antiretroviral therapy as soon as diagnosed.
In support of National HIV Testing Day, The New York City Health Department and its New York Knows community partners have teamed up with Walgreens, the nation’s largest pharmacy chain, and Greater Than AIDS, a coalition of public and private sector partners united in response to the domestic epidemic, to provide free HIV testing at 16 Walgreens stores in the city’s five boroughs. The testing events kicked off on June 27th and will continue through Saturday, June 29th. For more information, New Yorkers can call 311 or visit greaterthan.org/walgreens for a complete list of participating Walgreens locations.
How to Take Charge of Your Own Sexual Health
If you have ever had sex or have ever used injection drugs (even once), don’t assume that HIV is someone else’s problem. Everyone needs to be tested. In addition to getting tested, using a condom every time you have sex protects you and your partners from getting STIs (including HIV) and also reduces the risk of unintended pregnancies.
Any New York City resident can get a free HIV test at one of the Health Department’s Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) or Tuberculosis (TB) clinics, regardless of immigration or insurance status. New York State law now requires nearly all medical facilities to offer a voluntary HIV test to everyone ages 13-64 receiving emergency, inpatient or outpatient primary care health services, with limited exceptions. If you are not offered an HIV test the next time you visit a primary health care provider, ask for the test. For more information about HIV testing in NYC, visit nyc.gov and search ‘hiv testing’ or call 311.
The Health Department offers free latex condoms at thousands of venues around New York City. Call 311 or go to nyc.gov (search: condoms) for more information. To find condoms closest to you, download the free NYC Condom Finder smartphone application. City residents with Android, Apple, BlackBerry or Windows smartphones can search for ‘NYC Condom’ in the respective app store or log-on to facebook.com/NYCCondom for more information. The City also provides free lubricant, female (FC2) condoms, and male condoms in different sizes and styles.
For more information on HIV/AIDS, visit nyc.gov.