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US Officials Urge Testing for HIV as Health Crisis Intensifies

June 27 is being observed as the National Testing Day in the US. National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) is an annual campaign produced by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA-US) to encourage at-risk individuals to receive voluntary HIV counseling and testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 180,000 to 280,000 people nationwide are HIV-positive but are unaware of their status. HIV counseling and testing enables people with HIV to take steps to protect their own health and that of their partners, and helps people who test negative get the information they need to stay uninfected.

Across the country, thousands of HIV counseling and testing sites, state and local health departments, and community-based HIV/AIDS service providers will participate in NHTD events, by holding health fairs, providing community and media outreach, hosting special testing-related events or operating extended hours.

NHTD organizers will also reach out to communities at increased risk of HIV infection, including African American and Latino populations, both of which are disproportionately affected with HIV when compared to other demographic groups in the United States. Meanwhile in Orangeburg, Bamberg and Calhoun counties in South Carolina, facing a health crisis, officials are urging people to get tested for HIV. Confidentiality will be maintained, they promise.

According to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control's Surveillance Report, through December 2005, the district including the tri-county region reported a total of 1,049 HIV/AIDS cases, with a rate of 850 cases per 100,000 people. It ranks number one in the state in HIV/AIDS cases.

Bamberg ranks number two in the state in HIV/AIDS incidence, with a rate of 175 cases per 100,000 people. Orangeburg County ranks number three, with a rate of 829 cases per 100,000 people. With a rate of 45 cases per 100,000 peo
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