HARTFORD — Nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV and almost one in five do not know they are HIV positive. That’s why an outreach event offering free HIV screenings will be held June 27, from 3 to 6 p.m. at 2550 Main St. in Hartford.
The Pediatric and Youth HIV Program (a partnership between the University of Connecticut Health Center and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center) in collaboration with the Hartford Youth HIV Identification and Linkage (HYHIL) Consortia are co-sponsoring the event.
Despite improved prevention and treatment efforts, HIV continues to disproportionately impact certain populations and geographiclocations. Although HIV has had a severe impact on all regions of the country, it remains mainly an urban disease.
Blacks/African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV. They represent about 14 percent of the population but accounted for 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2009. Hispanics/Latinos represent 16 percent of the population but account for an estimated 20 percent of new HIV infections in 2009. In addition, many people enter HIV care late in their diagnosis and miss opportunities for improved health outcomes.
The outreach effort set forth by the HYHIL agencies is an attempt to encourage people, especially youth, to “Take the Test, Take Control” to learn their HIV status and be linked into medical care. “It’s very important for people to learn their HIV status and enter into medical care not only for their own health but for the overall health of their community,” says Nilda Fernandez, coordinator of the HYHIL consortium. HYHIL will be collaborating with Latino Community Services, Hartford Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, AIDS of CT and other community agencies to provide voluntary HIV screenings.
National HIV Testing Day, June 27, is an annual observance to promote HIV testing. The National Association of People with AIDS founded the day in 1995.
The HYHIL Consortia is made up of agencies across the Greater Hartford area including Latino Community Services, the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective, City of Hartford Health and Human Services Department, and AIDS Connecticut.
The University of Connecticut Health Center includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Founded in 1961, the Health Center pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about the UConn Health Center is available at www.uchc.edu.