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June 24th, 2009

Hudson Valley Gears Up for National HIV Testing Day



AIDS-Related Community Services (ARCS) announced today that its staff will mark National HIV Testing Day by providing free, confidential HIV tests at three locations. The comprehensive HIV/AIDS service agency has also created a web calendar of all HIV testing events throughout the Hudson Valley. National HIV Testing Day is officially observed on Saturday, June 27, 2009 but events are being held all week long.

In Orange County, the Greater Family Health Center will be providing a free Community Event on Thursday, June 25, 2009.  Free HIV Testing as well as Music, Food and Refreshments, Giveaways, Entertainment, Poetry Reading, Raffles, Patient and Community Educational materials, and opportunities for low or no cost health insurance enrollment. The event will take place from noon to 4 PM at 3 Washington Center, Newburgh.

In Dutchess County, ARCS' Early Intervention Program will bring its mobile testing unit to Kennedy Fried Chicken at 472 Main Street in downtown Poughkeepsie on Friday, June 26, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. No appointments are necessary. ARCS' test counselors use rapid oral swabs, which deliver test results within twenty minutes without needles
or a blood draw.

ARCS' Gay Men's Health Education Program will be offering HIV tests at the LOFT Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center at 252 Bryant Avenue in White Plains on Friday, June 26, 2009 from 3:00 to 8:00
p.m. "Men who have sex with men are still the largest estimated percentage of new HIV transmissions in the U.S.," said Paul Moccio, the program's coordinator. "Fifty percent of newly-infected gay men were infected by their main sexual partners-and nearly half of those believed their sex partner to be HIV-negative." This underscores the increasing
need for those in high-risk groups to receive an HIV test and know their status.

ARCS is also offering HIV tests at its Mosaic Center, located at 137 South 4th Avenue in Mount Vernon from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. No appointments are necessary. The Mosaic Center is a drop-in HIV prevention center that links those in need to ARCS' and other agencies' services. ARCS has a list of all HIV testing events in the Hudson Valley posted online at www.arcs.org/events/testing_day09.asp. Events can be found in almost all counties; all offer free and confidential HIV tests. The nationally-funded website www.hivtest.org also provides a searchable
database of all testing sites.

National HIV Testing Day, held each June 27th, is spearheaded by the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 56,300 new HIV infections occurred in the United States in 2006. They also estimate that 250,000 of the 1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United
States are unaware of their status.

"ARCS realizes that lack of access to treatment and care along with social stigma can make living with HIV difficult," said Jeff Kraus, ARCS' Executive Director. "With early diagnosis, uncertain individuals will know their HIV-status and receive appropriate treatment and care. We always say that it's better to know your HIV status than to sweat about it, and National HIV Testing Day is a great opportunity to get a test. Within twenty minutes, you'll know your status and then can take the appropriate next steps."
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