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President Barack Obama renewed his call for increased testing in recognition of National HIV Testing Day this Sunday, noting that one in five people with HIV are unaware they carry the virus.
"In recent years, we have made huge advances in HIV research, prevention and care," he said in a statement Friday. "Still, HIV and AIDS remains an epidemic in this country. That is why my Administration is launching in the coming days a comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy focused on reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care, and reducing HIV-related health disparities."
Obama also called for businesses, faith groups, scientists, academia, and philanthropic organizations to commit to fighting the epidemic.
"And all of us have a responsibility to reduce our risk and know our status, to continue to support those already affected by this disease, and to fight the stigma and discrimination people still face," he added. "So on this National HIV Testing Day, let us all recommit to do our part to help stop the spread of HIV and AIDS."
His message came as the New York state senate passed a bill requiring HIV testing to be offered to everyone age 13-64 in most medical settings, according to the Gay Men's Health Crisis. The senate passed the bill, sponsored by Sen. Thomas Duane, by a 42-10 vote.
"Expanding HIV testing in all settings is a dire need, and it is too critical to wait another year," said Marjorie J. Hill, chief executive officer of GMHC. "Offering an HIV test to adults seeking health care will decrease stigma. By making it an easier process, the number of people getting tested will increase dramatically. Ultimately, the bill will allow more New Yorkers to take charge of their health and access the treatment and care they need."
The assembly version of the bill, sponsored by Richard Gottfried, is also expected to pass.
Meanwhile in Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed hosted an HIV testing event Friday at City Hall, where he also underwent a test.
"This is a disease that impacts all of the city," Reed said at a press conference, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "That is why I am going to participate and be tested as well."