Do you know your HIV status? Not enough people do, say public health experts

By Shara Dae Howard, KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Public health experts say individuals knowing their HIV status is an important tool in reducing new cases of HIV infections locally and across the country. June 27 is National HIV Testing Day, and a Kensington social services nonprofit is using the occasion to remind people of the importance of getting tested.

LGBTQ Pride Month may be coming to an end, but connecting with queer communities to encourage everyone to take initiative and get tested for HIV is a year-round project, says Terrell Brown, executive director of GALAEI, which focuses on queer, transgender and indigenous communities and people of color.

“We’ve seen that numbers have steadily increased or remained steady, which isn’t a good thing in a city that is predominantly Black and brown,” Brown said.

Monique Hitch, with the Health Resource and Services Administration’s Division of Metropolitan HIV Programs, says one of the main reasons for the increase is too many people not knowing their status.

“According to the CDC, approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV, but 13% don’t know they have it,” Hitch said.

She encourages people to get tested for HIV so they can learn their status and get connected to whatever care and support they need. She says not knowing is dangerous not only for individuals, but also for their communities.

“Knowing your HIV status gives a better indication of their health and their partner’s health,” Hitch said.

Brown says that’s why GALAEI offers free at-home testing kits and case management resources — not just during Pride Month but 365 days a year.

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GALAEI offers free at-home testing kits and case management resources 365 days a year. Photo credit Shara Dae Howard/KYW Newsradio
Under Tyrell Brown, nonprofit Galaei served some 84,000 individuals in 2023 thanks in part to its increased visibility through Pride month.
An annual inclusive celebration with live performances, local food and more...