Today, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) issued the following statement in recognition of National HIV Testing Day, an annual day of public awareness coordinated by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
"HIV/AIDS does not discriminate against race, religion, nationality or gender. Since the disease first reached our collective consciousness in the 1980s, it has become a somewhat forgotten epidemic. Still, today, more than one million people are living with HIV in the U.S., and one in five people living with HIV is unaware of their infection.
"The black community needs to be especially vigilant and become more aware of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. While blacks represent approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for nearly half (46 percent) of people living with HIV in the U.S. in 2008, as well as an estimated 44 percent of new infections in 2009.
"Because of the Affordable Care Act, your health insurance plan may now include HIV testing as one of its many preventive health services that do not have any additional out-of-pocket costs.
"To find an HIV and STD testing site near you, visit www.hivtest.org. If you have not already done so, please take the time today to educate yourself and your loved ones about HIV/AIDS, to get tested and to take control of your health."
On December 1, 2011, World AIDS Day, Congresswoman Wilson held a symposium at North Miami Beach Senior High School to engage a dialogue between students from three local high schools and National Medical Association experts on the cause, prevention, testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
Congresswoman Wilson has co-sponsored several bills to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and testing. This year marks the 10th anniversary of her law in the Florida state legislature that mandated HIV testing for current inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections, so that they would be aware of their HIV status upon re-entry into society.