Baltimore. MD (June 27, 2016) – The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Prevention and Health Promotion Administration joins the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Greater than AIDS Campaign, to promote HIV testing throughout the nation – under the theme “Take the Test, Take Control.”
“We encourage all Marylanders 13 and older to get tested for HIV. There remain too many people in Maryland living with HIV who do not know their status. Early linkage to care and the use of antiretroviral treatment suppresses the virus, extending life and reducing transmission of the virus,” said Secretary Van T. Mitchell.
According to the CDC, people who know they have HIV can get medical care and can take antiviral medications that can reduce the spread of HIV by as much as 96 percent. As of December 31, 2015, there were a reported 30,958 Marylanders diagnosed and living with HIV. As many as 7,000 additional Marylanders might have HIV but not know it.
The good news in Maryland is that the number of new HIV diagnoses and the number of deaths among people with AIDS have decreased substantially over the past five years. However, not everyone has benefited equally from these declines. Young people (under age 29) and gay and bisexual men who have sex with other men continue to experience relatively high numbers of new HIV diagnoses.
“We also encourage people who know they are HIV-positive to take the next steps, which include seeing their doctor regularly and taking medications as prescribed,” said Public Health Deputy Secretary Dr. Howard Haft. “The Department and our partners at local health departments and community-based organizations can assist you in making those important connections.”
Marylanders who are HIV-negative but are at increased risk for HIV should consider taking PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, which can prevent infection to people exposed to the virus. Find out more information at prepmaryland.org.
National HIV Testing Day was created to promote testing. As a part of our statewide efforts to raise awareness and to make testing accessible across communities, local health departments and local AIDS service organizations have linked with Walgreen’s pharmacies to offer free HIV testing. To locate a testing site in Maryland, visit gettested.cdc.gov or text your local ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948) to find a site near you.
To reach the Bureau’s Center for HIV Care Services, visit http://goo.gl/86PBEB. To find out about National HIV Testing Day activities for your area, go to the 2016 National HIV Testing Day Calendar of Events at http://goo.gl/PyiHsv.
Marylanders who need help finding substance abuse treatment resources should visit http://goo.gl/elUyXi or call the Maryland Crisis Hotline, which provides 24/7 support, at 1-800-422-0009. For information on many of the policies currently implemented to fight addiction and overdose in Maryland, see http://goo.gl/NqmruX. If you know of someone who could use treatment for substance abuse, treatment facilities can be located by location and program characteristics on our page at http://goo.gl/i4zIQc.