Mayor Takes the Lead by Getting Tested Himself
BOSTON - Calling the HIV virus one of the great public health challenges of our time, Mayor Thomas M. Menino today marked National HIV Testing Day by getting an HIV test and joining dozens of mayors nationwide in encouraging HIV screening as part of the 4th annual Mayors Campaign Against HIV.
“Without a cure, prevention is our best hope to stop the spread of the disease,’’ Mayor Menino said. “People need to get tested so they’ll know their HIV status and not unknowingly contribute to the transmission of the virus.’’
Mayor Menino submitted to an HIV test at Justice Resource Institute’s (JRI) Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center in downtown Boston, where he was joined by officials from the Boston Public Health Commission, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and representatives of several community health agencies.
OraSure Technologies, Inc. and the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) donated more than 20,000 rapid testing kits to city health departments and community-based organizations nationwide, including 500 kits to Boston. The Boston kits were distributed to five agencies: Justice Resource Institute, the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, Codman Square Health Center, Fenway Community Health Center, and the Latino Health Institute. All of the agencies were extending their hours today to conduct the screening.
“We are fortunate to have community-based organizations to partner with us to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS,’’ said Dr. Nancy Norman, the medical director at the Boston Public Health Commission, which funds HIV prevention services in Boston through its AIDS program. “It is important not only for individuals and families to know their status, but entire communities.’’
There were 5,571 known cases of people living with HIV/AIDS in Boston as of May 1, local and state health officials say. Men who have sex with other men account for nearly 53 percent of all new HIV cases, while women make up 24 percent. Black women and Latinas account for 63 percent and 16 percent, respectively, of all newly reported HIV cases among women in Boston.
In response, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced the first new HIV testing campaign from the state in four years. Titled, “Get Talking, Get Tested,’’ the campaign targets African American and other black residents in five cities with the highest rates of new HIV infection: Boston, Springfield, Worcester, Lynn, and Brockton.
More than 65 mayors and health departments used the 14th year of National HIV Testing Day to encourage HIV testing and promote the benefits of knowing one’s HIV status. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.1 million people in the United States are infected with the HIV virus yet more than one-quarter do not know they have the disease.
- BPHC -
June 27, 2008