September 27 is the annual observance of the National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. First observed in 2008, the purpose of this day is to: raise HIV/AIDS awareness among gay men, encourage testing and advocate for greater treatment and prevention services for gay men. It is also a day to recognize the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on gay men.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gay and bisexual men are the population most affected by HIV.
- Gay and bisexual men accounted for an estimated 83 percent (29,418) of HIV diagnoses among males and 67 percent of all diagnoses.
- Black/African American gay and bisexual men accounted for the largest number of estimated HIV diagnoses (11,201), followed by white gay and bisexual men (9,008).
Nearly 1 in 7 gay and bisexual men living with HIV are undiagnosed. Getting tested is the critical first step toward protecting yourself and your partner from HIV. Sept. 27 is a great day to do it.
Many facilities have extended testing hours. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. Some gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3-6 months), as well as from the use of PrEP to prevent HIV in those at high risk.
If you don't have HIV, you can learn how to protect yourself, and if your test is positive, you can get medical treatment that can help you stay healthier, live longer, and reduce your risk of transmitting HIV to your partner.
“There are 14 National HIVAIDS Awareness Days that we observe throughout the year that promote awareness in different communities including Youth, Black, Latino, and Transgender individuals,” said Lorenzo Lowe, Director of HIV Prevention for Compass, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Palm Beach County. “The reason why it's so important to recognize these days in these different communities speaks to the challenges we all continue to face in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Truth is, the responsibility to get tested, use condoms, and adhere to treatment falls on everyone regardless of your status. This is a responsibility that needs to be exercised everyday by everyone. I would hope that conversations about prevention become secondary. Remember it was just in the early 80's we were in a race between education and catastrophe. This same race continues today and National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is one day among many in which we realize there is still work to do.”
You can find a list of testing sites throughout South Florida by visiting http://srdappsdoh35.doh.state.fl.us/ClinicSearch/ClinicSearch.aspx.