State Health Commissioner Urges New Yorkers to Get the HIV Test, Citing 1 in 5 with HIV Don't Know They Are Infected

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day

NEW YORK, N.Y. (June 24, 2011) – In recognition of National HIV Testing Day on Monday, June 27, State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., today urged New Yorkers to take advantage of opportunities to get tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, noting 1 in 5 New Yorkers with HIV don't know they have it.

"With nearly 130,000 New Yorkers currently living with HIV/AIDS and over 4,000 newly diagnosed each year, New York continues to be an epicenter of the HIV epidemic," said Dr. Shah. "The state's new HIV testing law makes it easier than ever to get tested for HIV when you visit your health care provider. I urge New Yorkers to say 'yes' to the test."

Under a state law that took effect last September, HIV testing must be offered to all persons between the ages of 13 and 64 who receive hospital or primary care services. The offering of an HIV test must be made to inpatients, persons seeking services in emergency departments, and persons receiving primary care as outpatients at clinics or from physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners or midwives.

Dr. Shah spoke at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, citing the hospital as an example of successful implementation of HIV testing into routine emergency department care.

"It is a missed opportunity when we repair a broken arm but send that patient home with undiagnosed HIV," said Dr. Shah. "For some people, the emergency rooms or clinics are their only contacts with the health care system. That's why the offering of HIV testing is important in those settings."

Dr. Shah stressed that early detection of HIV is critical so that treatment can be started in the early stages of the disease, when it is most effective. Currently, 1 in 3 persons diagnosed with HIV in New York are diagnosed late, after the infection has already progressed to AIDS, or at a stage where AIDS develops within one year of diagnosis. Dr. Shah said earlier testing will link individuals to health care to prevent the onset of AIDS.

While everyone should know their HIV status, individuals for whom HIV testing is particularly important include those who have:

  • Injected drugs or steroids with others or used shared equipment (e.g. needles, syringes, works) currently or any time in their past;
  • Been diagnosed with or been treated for hepatitis, tuberculosis (TB), or a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea, Chlamydia or syphilis;
  • Had unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with multiple partners, anonymous partners, or men who have sex with men;
  • Had sex with a partner they located on the Internet.

Where to Get the HIV Test

For New Yorkers needing assistance in getting an HIV test:

In New York City:

Call: 1-800-TALK HIV or dial 311.

Rest of State:

Albany Region   1-800-962-5065
Buffalo Region   1-800-962-5064
Lower Hudson Valley Region   1-800-828-0064
Rochester Region   1-800-962-5063
Long Island Region (Nassau/Suffolk)   1-800-462-6786
Syracuse Region   1-800-562-9423

Additionally, the National HIV and STD Testing Resource website at allows visitors to enter a zip code and find local testing sites in that area. Cell phone users can send a text message containing their zip code to "KNOWIT" (566948) and within seconds receive a return text message listing an HIV testing site in that area.

Persons seeking general information on HIV can call the New York State Health Department's hotlines:

English   1-800-541-AIDS (2437)
Spanish   1-800-233-SIDA (7432)
Deaf / TDD   1-800-369-AIDS (2437)