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CT Department of Health is Sponsoring Free HIV Testing
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HARTFORD -- Tomorrow is National HIV Testing Day, and the state Department of Health is sponsoring free HIV testing to encourage people of all ages to know their status.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 25 percent of Americans living with HIV/AIDS are unaware of their status. The National Association of People with AIDS, or NAPWA, wants to change that statistic. In 1995, NAPWA started National HIV Testing Day.

"Probably the number one reason someone would not want to get tested is because...of fear," said Vanessa Johnson, Executive Vice President for NAPWA.

Johnson said people living with HIV/AIDS are part of the campaign and are urging individuals to take charge of their health.

"For a long time, we played around with this disease, because of our fear, stigma, homophobia, or just not caring about people who may be different from us, we've allowed this disease to gain a foothold in this country. And now is the time to say, you know, 'no more' I will stop, I will be responsible for my actions, and at the very least, know my status."

The Connecticut Departmentt of Health said almost 11 thousand people were living with HIV/AIDS in 2008.

Tomorrow, local groups such as Latino Community Services and Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective will provide counseling and testing around the state at no charge.

The state legislature has also recently passed a bill that would eliminate the need for consent requirements, as well as extensive pre-test counseling. The idea is to let doctors offer HIV testing as part of a routine check-up , so people can get tested regularly. The law takes effect July 1st.

For details on where to get tested, visit HIVTEST.org.