Openly Gay Public Officials Take HIV Tests to Urge Gay and Bisexual Men to Test Regularly, Know Their HIV Status

SAN FRANCISCO, June 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today California State Senator Mark Leno and San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener took rapid HIV tests at Magnet, the community health center in the heart of the Castro, to remind gay and bisexual men of the importance of being tested for HIV every six months.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gay and bisexual men are the only risk group for which new HIV infections are rising in the United States.  One in five gay or bisexual men in major U.S. cities is living with HIV and nearly half are unaware of their positive status.  

"Despite the tremendous gains of the past thirty years, gay and bisexual men continue to be infected at alarming rates," said State Senator Mark Leno.  "I'm here today on the eve of San Francisco Pride's celebration as a calling to gay and bisexual men to test regularly and know their status so we can beat this epidemic once and for all.  We owe it to the courageous leaders who came before us, to the friends and loved ones we lost too soon to this horrible disease, and to each other."

"San Francisco's Castro neighborhood was ground zero for the start of the HIV epidemic, and I'm taking an HIV test at Magnet today because I believe we have the power – and responsibility – to make it ground zero for ending the epidemic," said San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener.  "But we can only do that by reducing our risk, by knowing our status, by continuing to support those already affected, and by fighting the stigma and discrimination people with HIV still face."

National HIV Testing Day is Monday, June 27th.  Currently, 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, the highest number in the history of the crisis.  More than 56,000 people are infected every year nationwide.  Every day in San Francisco, there are roughly two new infections.

"Even one new HIV infection is one too many," says San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano.  "National HIV Testing Day is an important reminder for people to know their status, but our prevention efforts don't stop there.  Every day, the foundation is providing free tests in communities with the greatest need and we are more committed than ever to bringing down the rates of new infections by expanding our testing efforts in the coming year."

San Francisco Department of Public Health recommends sexually active people get tested for HIV at least every six months.  Magnet offers services for gay and bisexual men Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and until 9:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.  Appointments are available online at www.magnetsf.org or by calling (415) 581-1600.  In addition, Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS are teaming up to provide additional capacity for free rapid HIV tests at locations across the country through Friday, June 24th.  For more information about HIV testing visit www.sfaf.org or www.sfhiv.org.Megan can be reached at mcanon@sfaf.org or (415) 487-3085.

About San Francisco AIDS Foundation
No city experienced epidemic levels of HIV faster than San Francisco.  At San Francisco AIDS Foundation, we work to end the epidemic where it first took hold, and eventually everywhere. Established in 1982, our mission is the radical reduction of new infections in San Francisco.  Through education, advocacy and direct services for prevention and care, we are confronting HIV in communities most vulnerable to the disease. We refuse to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable.

Contact:  Ryan McKeel
(415) 487-3071
rmckeel@sfaf.org

SOURCE San Francisco AIDS Foundation



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