By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com June 27 2011 5:10 PM ET
Several politicians and notable figures are reaching out to remind people of the importance of National HIV Testing Week.
Bienestar Human Services kicked off HIV Testing Week with free tests all across Los Angeles.
"We are proud to be a part of this campaign for awareness," said Oscar De La O, president and CEO of Bienestar. "Because we offer a holistic set of services, all Angelenos that visit us for an HIV/AIDS test will also find many additional resources to encourage their long term health and well-being."
President Obama looked back at his administration's release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy last year but noted that the first step in eradicating the virus is knowledge.
"One in five Americans living with HIV is not aware of their infection and this research highlights the imperative of making sure people know their HIV status and getting those who do have HIV into care," he said in a statement Monday.
Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the theme of this year's testing day, which was Monday, is "Take the Test. Take Control," a message that stresses that people who are diagnosed early in their infection can live long, healthy lives.
"A recent initiative to test for HIV more rigorously in emergency rooms and health centers in areas of need identified nearly 30,000 people with HIV," she said in a statement. "Of that group, more than 18,000 people did not know they had the infection. Health care providers are increasingly recognizing the importance of routine HIV testing for adults and adolescents, not just persons who have an identifiable 'risk factor.' We need to spread the word that knowing your HIV status helps you take control of your health, protect your loved ones, and get connected to treatment, if needed."
For more information on testing and to find out where to be tested for HIV, visit HIVTest.org