Dr. Mark Horton, Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), today observed National HIV Testing Day
by urging Californians to be tested for HIV if they have never been tested or to be re-tested if they have engaged in high-risk behavior since their last HIV test.
“Confidential or anonymous HIV testing and counseling services are available throughout the state at no or low cost
,” said Horton. “For HIV-positive individuals, new and effective treatments offer hope for a longer, healthier life, but people cannot access those treatments unless they know their status."
It is estimated that between 25,000 and 50,000 Californians may have HIV but are unaware of it. Currently, there are approximately 125,000 to 160,000 people living with HIV or AIDS in California.
Individuals who are at highest risk for HIV include men who have sex with men, injection drug users, individuals who have unprotected sex with multiple sex partners, sex or needle-sharing partners of an at-risk individual, and children born to HIV positive mothers.
“By learning their HIV status, individuals can take steps to protect their own health as well as the health of their partners,” Horton said.
To promote broader HIV testing, Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 682 (Berg, Statutes of 2007). This law came into effect January 1, 2008, and eliminates the requirement for specific written consent for an HIV test. Instead, medical care providers are required to give patients information about the test and advise them of the right to decline testing, often referred to as “opt-out” testing.
More information about HIV/AIDS and HIV testing is available at The State Office of AIDS